Humanities 2 – Professor Blume
Interpretive Essay Rough Draft
“The Spirit Wife”
Throughout all societies, the passing of a loved one is never a welcomed thing.
cultures tell stories of a mourning lover following their lost one to the ends of the earth in an
effort to have them return.
One such culture is that of the Zuni tribe, descendants of the Pueblo
Recorded as was retold in the nineteenth century, “The Spirit Wife” is a tale that was
passed down through many generations of Zuni people teaching of the power of nature, the
necessity for self-control, and the inevitability of death.
Through the use of things essential to
the Zuni peoples, such as corn, prayer sticks, and animals, this story is a window into the culture
of these people.
This tale begins with a depiction of a man sitting beside the grave of his wife, weeping,
surrounded by religious iconography.
In his sorrows, he decides to follow her to the Land of the
Dead, and to bring her back to him.
Upon nightfall, the spirit of his wife appears beside him.
They spend the night together, and as morning begins to arrive, he ties a red eagle plume to her
hair, such that he will be able to follow her when she is invisible, by day.
As the Sun rises, her
form becomes more and more transparent, and begins to head westward, towards the land of the
He follows the feather for many days, overcoming many seemingly unconquerable
obstacles, becoming weaker and weaker.
When he thinks that he can continue no further, they
finally come to the side of lake.
The spirit of his dear wife dives deep into the lake, to the Land
of the Dead.
The man begins to weep, for he knows that he can continue no further.
At this, an
owl-person comes to him, saying that he can be reunited with his love if he will only follow to
the home of the owls, and then follow their advice.
When he arrives at their home, they instruct