Jackie Thomas Swanson

Lesson 5: Who am I? Part Two

William Shakespeare, the famous English writer created memorable characters that displayed basic human strengths and weaknesses. His work is performed and studied to this day. One reason his characters are so memorable is that he created three levels of a character.

The first level is: who the character is when they are in public. What face or mask persona do they wear when they are in front of the public? So for example, Hamlet was a prince so in the king’s court had to act a certain expected way and spoke in the manner of the a prince.

The second level is: Who are you when you are with your family and friends? Staying with Hamlet, he was a son and brother and friend and behaved differently among those closest to him. He snapped at them and brought up old issues.

The third level is: who am I when no one else is around. How do I speak to myself? The famous, “To be or not to be…” monologue is Hamlet talking to himself and working out problems and even considering suicide.

Can you look at yourself at these three levels? What mask do you wear when you are in public, among people you don’t really know?

Who are you when you are amongst family and friends? Do you behave as they expect you to behave or are you comfortable enough with them that they accept you however you act?

Who are you when you are alone? This is a hard topic to consider because we have often created our image of ourselves based on what we think others think of us; from our parents and siblings, classmates, and co-workers, and partners.

Read the following story and answer the questions that follow.


Rabbit and Bear

A Snoqualmie Story

A long time ago….

Rabbit and Bear were traveling together across the mountains. They were traveling for many days.

One day it began to snow.

“Oh no” said Bear. “I hate the snow! My paws don’t work well in the snow. I slip and slide. They work better in the ice where they can dig in as I walk. I will sing my power song and make it colder so that ice will form.”

” Oh no!” exclaimed Rabbit. “I love the snow! My feet are meant for traveling in the snow. I will sing my power song and make it snow even more!”

So they both sang their power songs and after a while it snowed even more just as Rabbit had said.

“Ha!” said Rabbit. “It is snowing just like I wanted. Bear, my power is greater than yours! You shouldn’t challenge me for I will always win. Because I am Rabbit and I am better than you!”

Bear looked at Rabbit and thought, “I wonder if I like this little Rabbit?”

They kept traveling and came to a hill. Rabbit bounded up the hill in the snow on his furry feet very easily and quickly. He got to the top and turned and looked at Bear. Bear was struggling to get up the hill in the snow. His claws kept slipping and he would slide back every few steps. He was working very hard to get up that hill.

Rabbit yelled, “Hurry up, Bear! What’s wrong with you? Can’t you climb up this little hill?” Rabbit laughed and laughed at Bear.

The Rabbit made a snowball and threw it at Bear. It hit Bear right in the face and Bear tumbled back down the hill, all the way to the bottom.

“Ha ha, Bear!” called Rabbit. “What is wrong with you? You can’t even climb up a hill in the snow! Remember I am better than you because I am Rabbit and you are only Bear.”

Bear started to climb up the hill again, slipping and sliding. He thought to himself, “I don’t think I like this little Rabbit.”

That night they made a camp and built a fire and cooked some food. After they had eaten they played sla-hal, the bone game. It is a gambling game where one person hides a pair of bones, one marked the other unmarked in either hand, and the other person has to find the unmarked bone which is in one hand or the other. Money or goods or food is bet and if you are good at finding the right bone you can get rich.

Well Rabbit and Bear played a long time. They were singing their gambling songs as they played and Rabbits song made fun of Bear. And Rabbit kept winning and winning and winning. After a while Rabbit had all of Bear’s possessions. He had won all Bear’s money and food and even clothes. Bear lost everything.

Rabbit looked at Bear and laughed. “Bear!” he laughed, “I won everything! I saw everything you were doing. And do you know why I won and saw your every move? Because I am more powerful then you and smarter than you. I hope you learned your lesson and know you can never beat me. I am so much better than you because I am Rabbit and you are just old Bear!” and Rabbit laughed some more.

Bear looked at Rabbit and thought to himself, “I really don’t like this Rabbit now. Tonight, when he is asleep, I am going to kill him!”

Later that night they got ready to go sleep. On one side of the fire was Bear. All he had left was a little scrap of a blanket to cover himself with. He lay down and closed his eyes and pretended to go to sleep.

On the other side of the fire Rabbit was getting ready to lay down and sleep, but he knew something was wrong. You don’t get to be an old rabbit if you don’t pay attention and Rabbit knew Bear was up to something. Rabbit decided he would not sleep in his blanket that night. He quietly crept into the woods and got a big rock and put the rock in his blanket and covered it up. Then he crept into the woods to wait.

Much later that night Bear opened his eyes. He quietly got out of his blanket and quietly crept around the fire to Rabbit’s blanket. He bit into the blanket!

But Rabbit was not in the blanket. Bears teeth broke on the rock within the blanket! Bear screamed, “My teeth! Ow, my teeth!”

From the woods Bear heard Rabbit laughing. “Ho ho! Bear, don’t you know I could see everything you were doing? You thought you could kill me, but there is no way! I am so much smarter than you. I am Rabbit!”

Bear looked angrily at Rabbit and said, “Come here fat little Rabbit. I want to talk to you.” But Rabbit knew Bear was very angry so he ran away.

But Bear chased Rabbit. He followed him through the woods. He followed him through the hills. He followed him into the mountains. Bear was relentless, he would not give up.

Rabbit was getting tired. He could not get away from Bear. Finally Rabbit came to a frozen lake covered in ice. He ran onto the ice across the lake, but Bear flowed him. Rabbit was very tired and he finally collapsed. He could run no further.

Bear kept coming across the frozen ice getting closer to Rabbit. He could feel and hear the ice cracking beneath his feet, but he did not care. He wanted to get Rabbit.

He came upon Rabbit and stood up to jump on him, but the weight of Bear was too great and he caused the ice to crack and then break. Bear sank into the water and to the bottom of that frozen lake.

The people say that lake is called Lake Katchees and that if you go to the lake in the summer time and take a canoe to the center of the lake waters and look down you will see what appears to be a large bear sitting at the bottom of the lake.

And that is all!

Story Questions:

  1. How would you describe Rabbit’s personality in this story? Does he seem like a good friend? Why or why not?
  1. How would you describe Bear and his temperament? Does he seem like a good friend?
  1. What is the conflict, the struggle between the two characters?
  1. How could they have behaved differently for a better outcome?
  1. Do you see anyone you know in these characters?
  1. Do you see either of these characters in yourself?