Iscussion 2: On Olive Senior’s “The Pain Tree” And Ana Menéndez’s “Her Mother’s House”

 Your initial post is due by midnight (11:59 PM) on Thursday. You must write at least 400 words on Olive Senior’s “The Pain Tree” and Ana Menéndez’s “Her Mother’s House” (in other words, at least 200 words for each story).

Instead of relying on plot summary you will support your interpretation by using and analyzing textual evidence. When you quote the story make sure you cite the page number: for instance, after the quotation put the page number in parenthesis (60). Avoid writing out “on page 60”. When you quote a passage from the story make sure you introduce the context and that you are analyzing the meaning of what you quoted.


I encourage your own formulations, but address the following prompts (you can address them in any order and be sure to write at least three or more paragraphs):

  1. In the short stories, you are going to encounter protagonists attempting to reconnect and remember (as in “putting together again”) their Caribbean “home” spaces. How have their perceptions of their Caribbean homelands been shaped by their parents? What new perceptions do they gain and how does this transform their view of themselves and their history?
  2. Victor Shklovsky argues that ostranenie (“making strange” in Russian, and also translated as estrangement/defamiliarization) is the essence of literature. Where in the two stories do we encounter descriptions of estranged perception? Analyze the significance of these moments in the stories. Be sure to consult and cite Shkovsky’s essay (especially his definition of ostranenie on page 80) to support your analysis.
  3. For our annotation assignment, we learned how to notice patterns and overlooked meanings that helped us understand “Sonny’s Blues” more fully. In “The Pain Tree” and “Her Mother’s House” what patterns, connections or implied meanings did you notice structuring the stories?
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