After reading the texts assigned for this week, I have selected “The Odjibwa Corn Hero” for my first response paper for two reasons: a) it is the only story I read that made me want to eat a bucket of corn afterwards and b) even though I do not know anything about Native American folklore, the story seems to have something familiar at its core which I intend to uncover.
The story begins with Wunzh, after reaching a proper age, he decides to go to an isolated place to “fast undisturbed and find his guardian in life”. He was often baffled by the wonders of the world and searched for something that would allow himn to help his people so that they wouldn’t have to “rely on the luck of the hunt or the occasional fish”.
Exhausted, yet still praying for an answer on the third day of his fasting a figure appeared “dressed in yellow and green garments” claiming that the Great Spirit had sent him to grant him his wish provided that he fought him. Three trials the hero undergoes and eventually beats the figure, which then it gives him instructions on how to strip it of its clothes, plant and care for it; he did as instructed until one day he returned only to find “a tall, graceful plant, with clusters of yellow on its side, long green leaves”; its name was “Mondawmin”.
The hero then, showed his family how to plant and how to cook this plant and everyone lived happily ever after. My first thought after reading the myth, is that it may be simple in form but deep in the messages it tries to convey: fasting, meditation, and isolation are tools which the hero uses to cleanse and prepare himself as he tries to reach spiritual transcendence; a kind of rite of passage from boyhood to manhood, for the weaker the body the stronger the mind as they say; and the one who proves worthy and courageous shall taste the “fruits” of his labor.