By: Dorothy Johnson “Too Soon a Woman” Dorothy M. Johnson was born in McGregor, Iowa, but made Montana her home after living in New York City for a while. Three of her stories—”The Hanging Tree,” “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,” and “A Man Called Horse”—were made into movies. 1905-1984
Skills Focus Mood Character Motivation Character Traits
Too Soon a Womanby Dorothy M. Johnson What if you were left in the middle of nowhere with children you hardly know and nothing to eat?
Too Soon a Womanby Dorothy M. Johnson There is no game for hunting no crop for harvesting no food for sharing. Even the fish won’t bite. What would you do?
and Mary alone. Too Soon a Womanby Dorothy M. Johnson It’s all up to Mary now. . . Read how one young girl is forced to become “too soon a woman.”
Allusion If the narrator is comparing his dozing to Peter, whom is he comparing Mary to? Why would he make that comparison? Hint: At Gethsemane, the Lord was preparing to make the ultimate sacrifice for us. What is Mary doing? “Maybe Peter dozed that way at Gethsemane as the Lord knelt praying.”
Mood “That was no covered Conestoga like Pa’s folks came West in, but just an old farm wagon, drawn by one weary horse, creaking and rumbling westward to the mountains…”
Mood “I remember my father’s sunken eyes in his gaunt, grim face.”
Mood “I got plumb lost two or three times and thought maybe I was going to die there alone and nobody would ever know it, but I found the way back to the clearing.”
Mood “If I’d had Pa’s rifle, I’d have been willing to kill her right then and there.”
Mood “I was so scared that my stomach heaved, empty as it was…She said in a low voice, ‘I don’t know how long it will be if it’s poison. Just do the best you can with the girls’...I slept after awhile, with my chin on my chest. Maybe Peter dozed that way at Gethsemane as the Lord knelt praying.”
Mood “The rain had stopped. My father came plunging out of the woods leading a pack horse-and well I remember the treasures of food in that pack…Mary came out of the cabin then, walking sedately. As she came toward us, the sun began to shine.”
Too Soon a WomanLiterary Focus: Motivation A character’s motivation is his or her reason for displaying a behavior. It often reveals a person’s character. Motivation answers the question why?
We don’t all have the same motivations for our actions. If I fight with my brother it could be because I want: My mom’s attention Control of the T.V. remote To get back at him for hurting my feelings If I volunteer it could be because I want: To make the world a better place To feel good about myself To help specific people/animals To earn credit for school Why are some people always honest? Why do people work? Why do siblings fight? Why do some people volunteer and help others? Why do some people cheat?
Motivation At the beginning of the story, why does Pa refuse to talk to Mary? Why does Mary refuse to give the children any of the mushroom at first? Why does Mary laugh and tell stories and play games the day after she eats the mushroom? Why does Pa ask about Mary when he returns?
Characterization What kind of person is Mary? Compose a paragraph in which you analyze Mary’s character. In your character analysis, consider the following aspects: *How Mary responds to the conflicts in her life *Why she makes the choices she does *How people respond to her *How she reacts to their responses
After You Read First Thoughts 1. Does Mary seem like a typical teenager? Explain. Thinking Critically 2. List three conflicts (internal or external) in this story. Which conflict is the main one? 3. Think about the title of the story. In what way is Mary “too soon a woman”?
Extending Interpretations Most people would consider Mary a hero because she risked her life for others. Do you think any teenagers today are heroes? What have they done to show their bravery?