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These is My Words
by Turner, Nancy E.
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1. Using a first-person narrator limits the reader's perspective. At times, one may feel that Sarah is neither honest with herself nor correctly interpreting others' actions or feelings. How might the book have changed if it were written in the third person?

2. Sarah might consider herself an unlikely heroine, simply doing what she could to survive. How does she compare with modern women in determination and courage?

3. What is the purpose of Mama's mental illness? Does it mean anything that we never know her name?

4. Given the terrible hardship of life in Arizona Territory during the 1880s and 1890s, the desperate need to survive drove Sarah to do things that today might seem ruthless. Yet she remained a caring and loving person. Is this consistent with women today?

5. Given the terrible hardship of life in Arizona Territory during the 1880s and 1890s, the desperate need to survive drove Sarah to do things that today might seem ruthless. Yet she remained a caring and loving person. Is this consistent with women today?

6. What is the significance of Jack and Sarah exchanging time pieces for their wedding gifts to each other?

7. Trace Sarah's evolution from a young, unschooled girl with rough, homespun grammar to a polished and literate writer. Where in her diary writings do you begin to notice the change?

8. Does Sarah's picture of the West challenge or confirm your ideas of life on the frontier? Think of the many losses, the hardships and how settlers surmounted them. Are we, in modern times, as tenacious and courageous as Sarah?

9. Talk about the transformations of Captain Jack and of Sarah. What ultimately brings the two together?

10. Although Sarah's diary is fictional (there is no actual diary, according to Turner,) it is based on stories about the author's great-grandmother. Do you feel the story is realistic or highly romanticized? Is Sarah credible and do you find her story convincing?

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