Essay on Leslie Silko's Ceremony

2121 Words 9 Pages
In Ceremony, Leslie Silko brilliantly crosses racial styles of humor in order to cure the foolish delusions readers may have, if we think we are superior to Indians or inferior to whites, or perhaps superior to whites or inferior to Indians. Silko plays off affectionate Pueblo humor against the black humor so prominent in 20th-century white culture. This comic strategy has the end-result of opening our eyes to our general foolishness, and also to the possibility of combining the merits of all races. Joseph Campbell wrote in The Inner Reaches of Outer Space of the change in mythologies away from the local and tribal toward a mythology that will arise from "this unified earth as of one harmonious being." Ceremony is a work that changes local …show more content…
He tries two ways of responding to its invasion of his life that do not work-self-erasure and killing an agent of death. Finally he is able to find a way of opposing destruction which will not lead to his erasure as a force on the reservation, not allow anyone to kill him, and most important, not change him too into an agent of death.

Tayo's difficulty is grave, yet Silko jokes about it frequently. The belief among whites that Indians never laugh is contradicted continually by the sounds of Indians responding to subtle in-jokes or to a corrective kind of teasing crystallized in the work of ritual clowns. Black Elk [in Black Elk Speaks: Being the Life Story of a Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux] speaks of clowns appearing when people needed a good laugh. At that time, he says, the clowns based their performance on the minor frustrations of life or on our minor flaws as human beings, such as our tendency to exaggerate our plight I believe that Leslie Marmon Silko is in effect a sacred clown, turning the light of laughter against evils which might otherwise weaken us all....

Human clowning of a farcical type, exposing our human flaws in a manifestly physical way, builds up Silko's philosophy. The drunk Indian veterans who had attempted to fight over Helen Jean "started pushing at each other, in a staggering circle on the dance floor. The other guys were cheering for a fight. They forgot about her." Their lack of real love for women goes with their

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