Towards the end of the story (in part four), Silko introduces the image of sand several times. The setting is indeed taking place where there is abundant sand and for Silko it is a part of the story. In order for one to see how sand plays a role in the story, its physical properties must be presented first. Sand is a solid granular substance comprised of tiny particles or grains. Its composition is based on rock and minerals and is variable depending on the local conditions. It is also present in various areas such as beneath the ocean or the desert.
While Tony was going to sheep camp, Silko describes them driving through the road that ‘climbs around the sandstone mesas…’ (Silko, 365). Since sand is present throughout nature, it serves as a symbolic unification. In the above quote, it is as if sand is the center of the natural setting since the road ‘climbs’ around it, just as life grows around water with water being central in nature. Soon they were ‘in the narrow canyon with pale sandstone on either side…’ (366). Here Silko doesn’t necessarily portray sand as a central element but something that surrounds and integrated into the setting, just like how sand surrounds the waters as beaches. The last descriptive usage of sand is the description of the police officer’s death: “…and the sand between his legs and along his left side was soaking up the dark, heavy blood” (366). As the sand absorbs the blood, it is metaphorically absorbing the death of the officer. One of the properties of sand is that it can absorb liquid-like substances such as water, playing an integrative role. The image of bright, yellowish sand with dark, reddish blood is a dichotomy between tropical and muddy violence. This dichotomy may foreshadow Silko’s contradictions between the traditional and modern Native American in this story.
In each of the examples, the line with sand is significant to the plot. The first is described right before Leon spots the officer’s following them. The...
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