Study Guide

Homeless Bird Tradition and Customs

By Gloria Whelan

Tradition and Customs

Did you notice how everyone in Homeless Bird is always talking about the importance of tradition? Koly can't meet her hubby before the wedding because of tradition. She's considered worthless once she's a widow because that's how society rolls. And she can't go to school or learn to read because tradition says her place is in the home. In short, Koly is constantly being told no because of some stuffy old customs. Eventually, though, Koly learns that it doesn't matter whether she agrees with her culture's traditions or not—they will always be there, so she's going to have to deal with them.

Questions About Tradition and Customs

  1. List all the traditions that are discussed in the book. How many of them relate to marriage or death? Why do you think that is?
  2. Who is the most traditional character? Why are the traditions important to that character?
  3. Which traditions do Koly like or agree with? Which does she dislike or disagree with? Does this affect whether she obeys them or not? And what does it tell you about her relationship to society?

Chew on This

Homeless Birds shows us that much as traditions can be awesome, they can also be sources of serious oppression.

Tradition might not be Koly's favorite thing in the world, but she learns to appreciate her culture and heritage through the rituals of funerals and weddings.

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