Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko

Introduction

As seen in the novel Ceremony, Leslie Marmon Silko tells a story about Tayo who is the main character in the novel. He needs to adjust to his environment after coming home from the war. Tayo experiences many problems because he lived as a war prisoner in Japan, which affects him bodily and emotionally.

Tayo is worried about how he will interact with his family in Laguna Pueblo and his mixed culture problems since he was half-White and half Native American. According to Tayo’s family members, they believe that the only solution to his problems is through practicing Native American rituals that will help him to become a normal person. Finally, Old Betonie applies different rituals to ensure that the Native American ceremonies give Tayo peace (Silko 2).

In Ceremony, different forms happen and Tayo participates in each one, which acts as a manner of getting him back with his Native American culture. The novel talks about celebration of unrelated brief ceremonies and this describes why the novel itself is a ceremony. In the novel’s plots, the author chooses the different ceremonies as they either start or end.

To Tayo, these ceremonies were a transitional stage since in ancient times in Pueblo. The community members performed ceremonies after the returning of warriors from fighting because they avoided stains caused by fighting destruction (Walther 9).

Storytelling is an aspect that happens to human beings because they are capable of using words to pass information amongst individuals and generations. The concept of storytelling is only possible to humans because the trial of teaching non-human creatures has not been successful.

According to the Ceremony, the word story refers to factors that contribute to identification of a story. A story can be eitherreal or fictitious, contains realistic situations or fantasy. Therefore, a story provides the narrator or writer with freedom to explore any type of genre around the world. The novel Ceremony backs this concept because it has all forms of freedom in telling its stories (Walther 3).

In the novel, storytelling does not major on the general process involved in storytelling. However, it focuses on how the Native American traditions used to tell stories.

In the past, all the Native American cultures on biology, history, morality, medicine among others transferred among different generations through storytelling in their culture. The title “official storyteller” belonged to the elders who made storytelling to become a famous event. The main goal of storytelling is to transfer information among generations. Stories are rhythmic.

Indeed, they have repetition and sometimes presented in custom of a song. In the novel ceremony, these ways of storytelling occurred as a poem, which surrounded the novel narrative in both the beginning and end. The stories told in novel ceremony about Pueblo culture are real stories that exist outside the novel context (Walther 3).

In Ceremony, there is narration of different brief stories, which include stories on war told by Harley, Emo among other soldiers. We also see Old Betonie and Night Swan tell part of their stories as Tayo claims to remember a story that Rocky told him. Old Betonie claims that, there is a time that Tayo’s aunt distracted him during a part of the story. At the start of the novel, it ensures that the whole narrative in it represents a story.

Within the novel, the author indicated that storytelling ranked to be the main matter compared to other ethical concerns entailed in the story. From the novel, it is true that from stories told by other people, Silko’s story in the novel shows to be extra ordinary because it resulted to major changes, which changed the modern World. In addition to that, it shows that stories are capable of curing as they create rituals and formalities, which enhance individual and community healing (Domina 9).

As the novel starts, Tayo’s grandmother communicates with Tayo’s aunt and she tells her how she is aware of bad stories regarding an individual who was gossiping them. The writer says that Tayo’s aunt feels happy on the fact that other people gossip about her family, after her conversation Tayo’s grandmother, she now understands why her story instigates the many gossip regarding her family.

Here, it comes to recognition that a shared story through two persons creates a sense of community between them because they both understood why people were gossiping their family.

Before the end of this narrative in the novel, Tayo’s grandmother tells two ceremonial poems. This happens after showing a story on how Pinkie died in Emo’s hands and she got bored because she had repeatedly heard that story.

She says, “It seems like I already heard these stories before”…. “Only thing is the names sound different” (Silko 260). This means how different people usually narrate the same story to her (Domina 10)

In the novel Ceremony, storytelling enhances the quality of the narrative. For example, during the scalp ceremony, Ku’oosh told Tayo “this World is fragile”, (Silko 35), in clarifying the meaning of the World being weak, Ku’oosh uses different stories to elaborate sense in his statement and according to the novel, and this shows how storytelling leads to affect narratives. These stories were also important to Tayo after returning from war as they erased all the painful memories that he had regarding the war and his prison life in Japan.

Leslie Marmon Silko of novel Ceremony tells a story of her life. As matter of fact, she says that she is originally from Pueblo community found in New Mexico. Silko identifies herself to be a Native American and her culture highly values storytelling. She insists that the purpose of writing her novel was to enhance her life and categorize the Native American foundation in her.

Furthermore, she highlighted the differences that existed in the Native American and the Whites cultures. Here, Silko asserts that for Tayo to balance with his mind state, he should formulate stories that support both cultures of his origin (Silko 12)

In Ceremony, Silko does not apply mythic stories and requires the reader to link these stories to the personality of the persons in the novel. Indeed, Silko intended to involve readers to participate in the creation of her written stories in order to be similar to what happens in oral stories. The strengthening of storytelling as a theme in the novel Ceremony shows where Silko uses different types of storytelling narratives in the novel (Walthier 9).

The entire novel narrates Tayo’s story. The novel indicates that Tayo is a Native American but with two different origins from Laguna Pueblo. The novel tells a story of how Tayo is stressful because of some issues that Tayo faced from his childhood and the experiences he encountered in war. The novel tells us the recovery of Tayo from his problems through practicing different Native American cultures such as practicing of rituals and ceremonies.

In conclusion, the field of storytelling is an interesting part of literature. Indeed, it has been on study for quite some time now. Different individuals conduct studies concerning the subject, for example, Walter conducted a research to establish the differences between spoken and written storytelling. Ruth Finnegan also has a research on the differences that exist between oral and morality. These researchers have also discussed the benefits of storytelling to languages, cultures, and writings.

Therefore, people should note and apply storytelling in the world because of its benefits. For example in the novel Ceremony by Silko, storytelling played different roles, which includes, offering powers to cure. Indeed, from storytelling, Tayo realized that the only solution to his problems was through practicing rituals and ceremonies, which was storytelling.

Ceremony combines the Western narrative methods and Native American legends that was largely derived from Pueblo and Navajo sources. Both prose and poetry are used in telling the events, and poetry is reserved for the Native American version of the narrative as connected by the Thought-Woman, who predicts, “the only cure is a good ceremony”. Tayo in the novel is a World War II veteran, and he is both white and Laguna.

He is estranged from the Native American and the white culture. His cousin Rocky died in the Philippines and his death was haunting him. The government only noticed the cousin with other Native American in times of war. The government needed them during this time so that they could fight for the land that was already taken from them. There was a likelihood that Tayo would become a crazy Indian descending into the same alcohol-ridden fate like his mother, before being healed by the ceremony that was conducted by Old Betonie and Shush.

The journey to the mountain was important to Tayo since it would heal him, and it was also of great cultural importance. Tayo had visited the traditional healer who was the Laguna elder but was never healed. He also visited the modern hospital in Los Angels and still he was not healed. The Old Betonie’s healing worked and this was because he recognized the need to change and adapt the old ceremony (MacGowan, 305).

Silko employs the narrative and spiritual heritage of the Laguna to show the struggle between dissimilar cultures towards the natural world instead of racial hostility. In the novel, the whites despise the kind of relationship that the Indians have with nature. The whites’ domination of the natural world confronted the Indian’s relationship with nature, which was reciprocal.

In Ceremony, nature is the contested ground between the two cultures. To restore the conflict, Silko’s mixed-blood protagonist re-creates cultural Laguna stories and ceremonies that contradict the destructive thoughts of the whites.The novel explores injustice, racism, and other connected issues to get the attentions of the whites even if it addresses the Native people. Silko’s work stresses the significance of the community.

His cousin Rock is doomed after being uprooted from the community. On the contrary, Tayo was able to reconnect to the community and hence he was saved. Disgusted by the exploitation of the American Indians, Silko uses subversive writing in order to defend the individuals from the native cultures (Chavkin 13).

Silko’s Ceremony transforms a certain kind of healing ceremony and a larger prophecy to cure cultural illness. The novel reflects a Deena Metzger’s response that we suffer from the world fatigue from cultural self-loathing. The novel connects the sick individuals to the sick world.

In a pattern and culture of medicine women, Silko takes the people reading the novel on a journey into her wellness narrative so that they can connects with the healing ceremony. Silko perceives herself as an instrument of narratives, which are derived from the spiritual foundation. That is why within the context of her own culture which is Laguna Pueblo, she functions as a healer by relating to the Thought Woman’s story, and the novel progresses as a chant to heal the cultural disease.

Through Tayo’s healing in the novel, Silko revives a traditional tale in the modern time. Silko went ahead to employ a specific Amerindian therapeutic tradition to reconstruct this tale, but she is still true to the cultural imperatives of Native American states to find other ways to tell old stories anew (Wilentz 82).

Silko’s Ceremony reminds its readers about the European and the European American representations of New Mexican natives, by re-imagining local stories and connecting them with the white stories. In the novel, Tayo is the first victim of the Western talk, which articulates Indians as violated objectives presences instead of subjective agents of their own destinies.

Tayo is both Laguna and Anglo, so he had to learn to balance between the native culture and the Western culture to survive in New Mexico. His first identity is influenced by the modern world. He must read the native stories and re-constellate them into the modern, which have been affected since him and his people have forgotten the stories that remind them of their identity in the world.

This articulated space is filled by the authoritative Western claims to knowledge claims, which does not connect the individuals with the community. It is vital to know that the present New Mexican natives constructions of reality has traces of the Western talks since the West has been affecting New Mexican natives from the sixteenth –century Spanish incursion into the New Mexico.

Tayo’s responsibility is to recover a balance among competing stories to sustain his story and his people’s story. Tayo’s story of the separation from the self and from this community is a microcosm of the instability of the world, and New Mexico plays a vital part in the story (Dean 146).

Annotated Bibliography

Silko, Leslie. Ceremony. New York, NY: Penguin Books, 2007.Print

In the novel, Tayo is the main character who underwent many problems when he was a prisoner in Japan. He was both Native American and white, and his mixed culture made it intricate for him to cooperate with the affiliates of his community. The experiences that Tayo had during war made him to be sick psychologically and bodily. The people of his community believed that if they would perform some Laguna rituals, Tayo would be cured. The Old Betonie performed the ceremony in order to make Tayo have peace.

Dean, John. Travel Narratives from New Mexico: Reconstructing Identity and Truth. Amherst, N.Y: Cambria Press, 2009. Print.

In the literature, the native stories are linked with the white stories. Being a Laguna and an Anglo, Tayo had to ensure he was balancing the Western and the Native culture to ensure his survival in Mexico. The initial identity of Tayo was affected by the modern world, and to remind him of the lost identity, he had to read the native stories.

Domina, Lynn. Understanding Ceremony: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 2004. Print

In the novel there are various stories told by different people. The people who told their stories were Harley, Emo, Old Betonie and Night Swan. In the literature, story telling was very significant compared to other ethical issues. Among the stories told in the novel, Tayo’s story was very different because he was influenced by the modern culture.

From the novel, stories are important to the community because of their capabilities to heal. Additionally, the community believed that when two people tell each other stories, the bond between community members becomes stronger.

MacGowan, Christopher. The twentieth-century American fiction handbook. Oxford( u.a); Willey-Blackwell. 2010. Print.

The writer shows the combination of the techniques of story telling of the Native Americans and the whites. In Tayo’s community, the pros and the poems were used in describing the events. Being white and Laguna caused his alienation from the Laguna and the white culture.

The Native Americans were only seen as important people during war since the government needed them to fight for their land. In the novel, Tayo’s cousin died during the war and he was haunted by his cousin’s death. Tayo was sick and he visited the modern hospital and some traditional healers but he was not cured. The only person who cured Tayo was the Old Betonie and it was because of his recognition of the importance of adapting the old ceremony.

Chavkin, Allan. Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony: A Casebook. Oxford [u.a.: Oxford Univ. Press, 2002. Print.

Laguna’s spiritual heritages that are used in the novel show the differences in the native and the white culture. The individuals from Western culture do not like how the Indians relate to nature. In the restoration of the cultural conflict, Silko’s mixed-culture re-creates the native culture stories and ceremonies in order to dissolve the negative thoughts of the whites. The writer explores injustice in order to get the attention of the both cultures.

Walther, Berenice. Storytelling in Leslie Marmon Silkos? Ceremony. Mu?nchen, Ravensburg: Grin Verl, 2006. Print.

In the story, Silko does not employ the mythic stories but she wants the readers to connect the story with the persons of the piece. Silko used the technique in order to make the readers partake in creating the written stories, to make them appear as they are being narrated orally. Storytelling is the theme of the novel and this is shown when Silko uses various story telling techniques.

Wilentz, Gay. Healing Narratives: Women Writers Curing Cultural Dis-Ease. New Brunswick, N.J: Rutgers University Press, 2000. Print.

In novel cultural illnesses were healed by the ceremonies. If one reads the novel, he sees how the natural world problems are connected to the sicknesses of individuals. Silko’s narratives were derived from the spiritual culture of the Laguna. By writing, the healing novel Tayo makes the traditional stories to revive in the current times.

Work Cited

Chavkin, Allan. Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony: A Casebook. Oxford [u.a.: Oxford Univ. Press, 2002. Print.

Dean, John . Travel Narratives from New Mexico: Reconstructing Identity and Truth. Amherst, N.Y: Cambria Press, 2009. Print.

Domina, Lynn. Understanding Ceremony: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 2004. Print

MacGowan, Christopher. The twentieth-century American fiction handbook. Oxford(u.a); Willey-Blackwell. 2010. Print.

Silko, Leslie. Ceremony. New York, NY: Penguin Books, 2007.Print

Walther, Berenice. Storytelling in Leslie Marmon Silkos Ceremony. Munchen, Ravensburg: Grin Verl, 2006. Print.

Wilentz, Gay. Healing Narratives: Women Writers Curing Cultural Dis-Ease. New Brunswick, N.J: Rutgers University Press, 2000. Print.

Go Top