Where We Once Belonged 135-65

Here are your “maps” from class on Friday. Your posts do not need to respond to them, but if you see any connection between the reading (135-65) and the maps, describe the pattern you see.

Fear of the moon: Fear of the moon.LaurenC

Memory: Memory.Brandon

Alofa’s legend: AlofaLengend.LaurenE

Alofa’s family tree: Alofa's Family Tree.Alivia

Fear of the Moon: Fear of the Moon.Shannon.Nate

Alofa’s family tree: Alofa's family tree.Melodi

Memory: Memory.BraelynMakayla

Memory: Memory.Jacob

Memory: Memory.JillCate


Lili: Lili


17 thoughts on “Where We Once Belonged 135-65

  1. For our maps we did sort of a family tree, and I thought it was interesting that we were asked to map before it was revealed that Pisa and Filiga were actually Alofa’s parents. This would probably have changed a lot about what we would have done and it definitely changes how I understand the story.


  2. I am still going crazy with all of these names. There are so many to remember, and some people are called multiple things. It doesn’t help that the stories jump around so much. I guess I’m a fan of more linear story telling. I have been lost or confused several times while reading.

    I was glad to get to more clarity about Alofa’s background. This section shared more about her parents. I knew that her father was Filiga (from the TV story), but I had no idea who her mother was or that Filiga has had three wives.

    I do wonder if Alofa is “beautiful” or not. The book says that all the women in the village say she is, that Pisa raised her ugly. Alofa says that she knows she’s ugly. I’m assuming that she isn’t as Pisa raised her to believe that she was. Overall, I’m just happy for some clarification-even if it’s immensely confusing at times.


  3. I loved the chapter titled “We” in this section of reading. While reading, it has become extremely apparent to me that the culture described in the book is heavily collective, and this section only made that more clear. The last line of the chapter really stuck out to me as the reader, as I’m sure it was intended to do. It says, “‘I’ is ‘we’…always.” This line effectively summed up the chapter that described the characters’ heavy reliance on one another and the collectivist culture of Samoa altogether.


  4. WHAT? It is mind blowing to me that Pisa is actually Alofa’s mom, according the chapter in this reading. When I did my family tree, according to the Alofa described in Friday’s reading, I was under the impression that Alofa was named after her supposed mother, Alofa. Had I known this beforehand, I would have created a separate branch for each of these stories. Additionally, I have noticed the prevalence of the “lizard” analogy, and that the legends of Earth and nature are imperative to the Samoan culture. I think this has a tremendous impact on how school is conducted in there culture, as well as how important religion is.


  5. I like that this book is told through multiple vignettes and that each of these serve an individual purpose, but it does leave me with a sense of confusion at points in regards to characters.

    Making this map kind of gave me a peek into who each person was and how they’re related to their surrounding. It’s such an intricate family / ancestry / community based in connections that having a physical representation is beneficial to me when thinking about the story as a whole.


  6. This story seems to make more sense as we read but also is still very confusing. Just as i start to piece things together more information is added and I’m lost again. Seeing the maps that people made Friday helped a lot even if I needed to fill in some of the gaps because they didn’t have the information Friday. I really liked the “We” chapter. I’m sure everyone feels like that at some point in their life. Like they are always part of something bigger, never their own person. It’s like losing yourself.


  7. All of the sections in the assigned reading focused on the statement, “‘I’ am ‘We'”. Alofa mentioned this same statement several times in the three individual chapters. This seems to emphasize the fact that they are a community where she is from. People are not seen as individuals, but as reflections of their families and where they are from. I feel as if now that Alofa is getting older, she is beginning to notice this emphasis on the community instead of the individual and that is why she so heavily refers to this.


  8. Something I found really interesting in this section of reading was the emphasis on the “we” in their culture. Alofa made comments about how they never get alone time or never have anything to themselves, there is no “I” just “we.” I thought this was interesting because it is so different from our culture here in America. I feel like we are taught, especially in today’s world, to be self-sufficient and independence is important but in their culture it seems like there may be no independence. It kind of made me sad that Alofa and the other members of the community can have nothing for themselves and it seemed that Alofa was unhappy with all the mention of “we.” On page 137 Alofa says, “I’ does not exist, Miss Cunningham. “I” is “we”…always. To me I felt a sense of almost anger or sadness when she said “always,” I sense she wants a break from this so I am interested to see where the rest of the story takes her.


  9. Something interesting I noticed in this reading was in the chapter entitled “Girl Lessons.” I was originally shocked at huge list of rules for girls in their village, some of them being:

    “Never wear anything exposing your knees. Never wear pants on the malae or at the pastor’s house. Never wear high heels. Never wear make up. Never go to church without a hat.”

    And the list goes on and on. When I first read that, my reaction was, “Wow! So many ridiculous rules.” Then my second thought was, “Well this is simply a different culture than mine.” And then the more I thought about it, the more similar they became. Being a woman, I would definitely say that there are expectations put forth by society. We are expected (for the most part) to have the ability to cook, clean, do laundry, have babies, etc. I would say that our rules are on a much broader scale, but there are definitely set expectations of women in both Samoan culture as well as our Western culture today. I think it’s super interesting to compare and contrast these two cultures and see how similar they really are.


  10. Something I really loved in Poem of The Sea & Breaking Baby Promises was the part where Samu is described to be kissing his wife’s belly. It is described as having stretch marks.
    “Each mark precious.
    Each mark a son or a daughter.
    All of his children.
    All of them living and healthy too.”
    I loved this because it seems that in our culture marks on someone’s body (stretch marks, scars, cellulite, etc.) are considered imperfections, but in this passage his wife’s marks are precious because of what they signify something so important.

    Also, his son has a big crush on Alofa! What!


  11. So I like how in these later chapters, we finally get a sense of what it’s like to be a young woman in Samoa. These girls are always concerned about boys so it suggests they are relatively close to marrying age and the later chapters seem to contain guidelines for girls of marrying age. The most interesting of those is that it seems to not really be socially acceptable for women to go around alone. I find this fact interesting because it seems to connect Samoa a little more with the rest of the world as there are many other cultures that include this rule of thumb as a social norm.

    Also I still do love the vignettes that involve folktales and myths of the Samoan people. It allows me to get a deeper understanding of their culture beyond the saturation of western goods and technologies.


  12. Something I found completely interesting was when Alofa was talking about how she decided to become a girl. In our culture, we have to wait a certain number of weeks, then we see a doctor, then we get an ultrasound, and then we find out the sex of a baby. We ever even consider the idea of the fetus choosing. This then made me wonder, What do they think of those babies who come out as hermaphrodites? Do they believe these people were somewhat confused when in the womb? Maybe this is a funny idea to contemplate, but it is also an interesting idea to discuss.


  13. In “Girl Lessons,” Alofa gives a summary of some of the tenets to be upkept by girls of the Samoan culture. The prime law of all of these tenets is that women belong to a collective; and women are, therefore, not to see themselves as individuals. For me, this provides a question on the nurturing nature—or seeing women as mothers—that we often find in different cultures. The Roman Catholic Church, for example restricts women from becoming priests partly for the fact that they have their own separate role to play in the nurturing of the soul. It is, thus, inquisitive to see the act of nurturing being carried on in a different way by a different culture.


  14. I of course must comment on how surprising and intriguing it was to finally find out via these last few chapters that Pisa is in fact Alofa’s mother. While we initially read the chapters in which Pisa’s particularly hard life was described, I thought to myself what is the significance of this story? I thought that it could have just been another story told by the author that simply describes the village and the culture in another person’s life story. I though that I had started to see a pattern with the author giving little nuggets of stories from the people surrounding Alofa, but now I question whether or not the author somehow has a more distinct and creative string in which all these stories make more sense being ‘strung’ together. I have very intrigued as to how the layout of the novel will continue, and whether or not my theory could be true. We shall see!


  15. So much of what happens in this book reflects on the holistic culture that the characters live in. Samoan culture is so different from western culture, despite the parts that compare- especially since many of the parts that compare are really just “imitation western culture” done on purpose by the youthful characters. Another, more thorough and common comparison that I’ve found is that, although the rules are different, gender in each society is a planned experience, more glaringly for women in terms of restrictions. Women in Samoan culture are so set in their roles, and I think the “We” section in the book really is a reflection on the way that women are supposed to be in nurturing roles, not allowed to have individual experiences. The culture is still really interesting, though, and I’m excited to continue seeing this book move forward.


  16. This book is very interesting, especially since it gives us a take on how a totally different society lives. It is a little confusing at times, because of how much it seemingly jumps around, but the fact that you get an outlook on several different character’s and are introduced to some of their stories is actually making for a nice tale, overall.
    For this reading, I especially like the chapter “Girls Lessons.” I feel like it can be related back to the chapter that talks about how the girls of the island should be. In our society, we are so used to women being integrated with us as equals, in this society’s case, it is a little less prevalent. Some of the “Girls Lessons” seem reasonable enough, and then you have such ones as: “Never wear anything exposing your knees / Never wear high heels / Never go bra-less to church / Never speak with the ‘k’ in your mouth / Never pray for yourself-you should pray for the whole village and for the whole of Samoa.” Some of these “lessons” seem to deal more with this society’s view on courtesy, which is particularly different from ours. Relating the two cultures (the US and the Samoa we see in this book) it is interesting to get a take on what another society sees as “appropriate” and “inappropriate.”


  17. This section was interesting and though provoking. Finally we hear about the narrator. We have been listening to Alofa tell stories of what she sees and what she notices. Now she connects the story of Pisa, the third wife of a loveless man, with her own. In this part of the reading we realize that Alofa is an odd girl out because her mother is not respected. This reminds me a little of Sunidata’s mother and his position within the royal family. We learn that Alofa may actually be a very beautiful girl. She has been taught to feel ugly and insignificant by her mother. We learn a lot about home life for Alofa as well as her birth story. It’s sad to think that this young girl has been treated so but in a culture where violence is a common consequence, this was just life as Alofa and her village knew it.


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