Themes In Ceremony, By Leslie Marmon Silko

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Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko is a story about reconstruction, redemption, and the salvation of oneself and world. The mixed narrative of prose and poems follows the recovery of Tayo, a Native American man who returns home to the Laguna Pueblo reservation after fighting in World War II riddled with PTSD and hatred towards the outside world. Tayo 's struggles represent the struggles of the clashing of Native American and White culture both in physical space and within people, as Tayo represents the meeting of these two cultures within a singular person. The narrative traverses both time and space in an unorthodox method forcing the reader to move away from a traditional, western reading of text and to accept a different method in order to …show more content…
The events explored are not connected by linear time, but rather by people and places as Tayo confronts them in his process of recovery. Once Tayo leaves the VA hospital he spends much of his time with his childhood friends who also went with him and Rocky to war, but quickly finds their glorification of the war unbearable, as he blames the war and himself for the loss of Rocky and the drought at home. His PTSD and shame being to get worse which leads Tayo 's grandmother to send for a medicine man to help heal him, beginning the ceremony for which the book is named. The ceremony, created by Betonie, symbolizes the author 's belief that while a mixing of cultures has previously damaged her culture, for Tayo and the Native American way of life to evolve they must adapt the old ways to fit the new world. The main element of Tayo 's recuperation is relocating and returning Josiah 's cattle to his family. The cattle are important because they represent Josiah, but also Tayo 's continual relationship with his tribe as an agent of change and adaption. In the end as Tayo evades arrest he must confront the whiteness inside him and in his life, as well as, how white culture changed his friends, symbolized by the murder of Harley, in order to heal completely and bring peace to himself and his …show more content…
Moreover, this moment highlights the secondary cultural clash present in the novel: between nature and white culture. Silko writes, "The world is a dead thing for them/the trees and rivers are not alive/...they see no life" (125). I really connected to this understanding of white culture because I grew up learning that animals and nature were not equal to human life and that humanity should always be put first. As we discussed in class the individualistic culture that comes out of capitalist practice and cultural theory creates a hierarchy that centers humanity, as Haraway explained. Additionally, Silko states, " They fear/...They destroy what they fear/they fear themselves" in reference to the white people from the witches story (125). These lines are so powerful because they explain white people 's relationship with both the Earth and Native Americans, as we feared both for the power and knowledge they have that we do

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