Yonnondio — Anita

I don’t know if I’m on this weeks blog special, but I was thinking I would post anyways.

A discussion question I would like to bring to the table is…

What are some key symbolic moments/images/phrases, to you as the reader, essential to communism, move from modernism, a call for arms/rebellion, or anything else that stood out to you several times throughout a chapter or as a whole?

For me (I’ll steal the easiest) two examples are the images of the fist in the first 3ish chapters:

1. In her first cameo (when the text indented) during the address to the company,

2. And in her cameo of the guy Jim worked with, forgot his name, at the end Olsen uses the fist as a rebellious force.

We talked a little about this in class, but I was wondering if there were any other repeating images you noticed throughout the text symbolically representing social context….



4 thoughts on “Yonnondio — Anita

  1. The example of Tracy’s defiance and the personification of God-job is a perfect example of a powerful image that helps define this novel as a whole. In that passage, Olsen attempts to dispel every “rumor” and “legend” about the benfits of capitalism and the value of the individual worker. Tracy is a symbol for the naive American worker who has yet to open his eyes to the harshness of the world and the true importance of money. He believes that a man’s worth is determined by his principles, not his check book. Along that line, he believes principles alone will be enough to help him survive the cruel times of the Depression. Olsen uses Tracy’s defiance as a way to illustrate the futility of the one man revolt, choosing instead to advocate a global revolt by all workers. It is the most openly Marxist passage in the novel, and our best indication as to what Olsen’s real motives behind writing this novel might have been. Great question.

  2. I found it interesting (and sad) how much violence and anger there was between the individual members of the family. Not only was the family persecuted by society and the economy, but also at home, the one supposed place of safety. I am not really sure the significance of all this displaced aggression. Perhaps it was just to show the anger that oppression causes. And to emphasis that the bourgeoisie must collectively funnel their aggression to accomplish change because individual aggression only leads to more disunity.
    I’m not for sure if this is relevant to Anita’s question or not, but it particularly stood out to me throughout the entirety of the novel.

  3. Could the title possibly have communist implications? We discussed in class how it is a reference to a Walt Whitman poem, but I was thinking that there may be several significant similarities between these two works of literature. I read through Whitman’s Yonnondio and on line stood out in particular in regards to this subject:

    I see swarms of stalwart chieftains, medicine-men, and warriors,
    As flitting by like clouds of ghosts, they pass and are gone in the

    It may be a stretch, but I would argue that these vanished professions indicate the movement away from capitalism and towards collective government. If this were true, then the title would be very fitting.


  4. I’m with Christina on this one….. It was amazing to see how angry the family members were. There was no easy way for them to communicate with each other. Yet, the whole time in my reading I was expecting something to click for them and to start acting as a family. But, I do believe that no matter how much love there is in the air, if there is no money on the table, all hope for a better life vanishes.

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