The Theme Of White Oppression In Leslie Marmon Silko's Ceremony

1232 Words 5 Pages
The suppression of other cultures under the dominant Western society in the United States is a common undercurrent of American history. White oppression causes various reactions within the Native American community, ranging from acceptance of assimilation to violent resistance. In Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony, Emo, the direct antagonist to Tayo, represents the idea of adopting the morally controversial ideas of white culture, and his actions are the product of the Western civilization’s belittlement of Native American beliefs.
The insensitivity and disgusting brutality of Emo is evident even in his youth. As a teenager, he “went into the old man’s field to look at the melons... and brought his boot down hard on the center of the melon” (56).
…show more content…
Rocky is a symbol of the ideal Native American able to assimilate into white culture, as he obtains a college scholarship for football. His life would have revolved around a predominantly white school and a Western sport. Emo embodies the immoral aspects of white culture, as his focus is on alcohol and the objectification and pursuit of white women. Emo is also one of the few to return from the war; while his vile and wicked foil survives, Rocky dies in combat. However, despite their differences, both of them represent a rejection of the Native American culture. Whereas Rocky only believes that the Native American culture is primitive and slightly ridiculous, Emo completely rejects the Native American lifestyle and finds it absolutely deplorable. This outward display of violence, envy, and self-loathing towards his Native American heritage is a reflection of the shame and mortification Western civilization forces upon the people since their birth. His shame of his own culture causes him to turn to trying to get petty revenge on the white community by taking advantage of, and sleeping with the white women to try and reclaim the power and prestige they had during the war. One of the stories Emo recounts is a story of him taking home two white women, full of crude sexual phrases and extreme objectification. Silko formats the story similarly to traditional cultural stories that she places within the narrative. This parallel …show more content…
After hearing about Emo’s departure and his murder of Pinkie, Tayo’s grandmother says that she’d “already heard these stories… only thing is, the names sound different,” followed by a story about the “witchery” implying that Emo himself is a form of the witchery (242). This description is fitting, as the Native American culture believes that white civilization is a product of the witchery, and both Emo and the Western culture seem to have an obsession with destruction. The evil witchery also opposes the good forces of nature, just as Emo antagonizes Tayo. This witchery is to blame for the decline of the Native American influence and the rise of the Western civilization in North

Related Documents