OUR CUP IS BROKEN by Florence Crannell Means


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From first to last there's little hope for Sarah or for her Hopi people. Undersized and shy, orphaned at twelve (her father had first lost a leg, her mother had slowly wasted away), she was adopted by the bohanna (white) principal of the government school and his wife and taken to Kansas; then, when they died, raised by Mrs. Loring's sister, an unbending, callous sort. So that when her romance (disparaged by ""Aunt"" Carrie) with clean-cut Kirk Torrey ends abruptly, Sarah, now 20, flees to the mesa and the comfort of her mother's vacant house. But the years away have made the fetal smells repugnant, the casual sex inimical. While she is adjusting to the former, the latter is forced upon her, and she becomes pregnant; the baby is born at home, and blind (likely from lack of medication). Reflecting the unease between Christianized Indians and Old Believers (heightened when Sarah's Uncle Abraham burns some new-found relics), Sarah, after deciding that gentle church-going Bennie is her only possible mate, insists on a Hopi wedding for fear that her little Missy will otherwise be cursed by his grandmother. Altogether it's not an auspicious start, and the exertions involved cause their first child to be stillborn. Meanwhile Uncle Abraham's sons and the other Christians are abandoning the meager life of the mesa, and during a brief rapprochement with Bennie (he's shown sudden concern for Missy), Sarah agrees that they should go too. What was untenable will be different and may be better--a somber, rather drab depiction that may be valid. . . but how much despondency will a young reader respond to?

Pub Date: May 16th, 1969
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin