Ceremony Analysis

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In a song called Helplessness Blues by Fleet Foxes, the lyrics present a crisis in self-identity. “I was raised up believing I was somehow unique; like a snowflake distinct among snowflakes unique in each way you can see. But now after some thinking, I’d say I’d rather be, a functioning cog in some great machinery serving something beyond me.” The lyricist struggles between his desire of individuality and his desire to be a part of a larger organization. As the song continues, he relates his story of learning to be at peace that the purpose of his life is to be a part of his community. Tayo experiences a similar struggle due to his mixed blood. He is torn between the white culture that tells him to only be concerned with personal gain and the traditional Laguna Pueblo belief that all living organisms are a part of one life force. In the same manner that Robin Pecknold of Fleet Foxes discovered his purpose, Leslie Marmon Silko uses a variety of literary features to support her negative treatment of white selfishness to show Tayo’s discovery of his purpose. Silko encourages the reader to view the world in a more connected sense.

Leslie Marmon Silko repeatedly uses white characters as symbols to represent the idea of self-interest. Tayo is searching for Josiah’s cattle, which is symbolic for Tayo trying to find a balance between his white and Laguna Pueblo halves. After falling off of his horse, Tayo meets a group of Texans that portray the white stereotype of putting their own personal gain before that of others. After discovering tracks of a mountain lion, the men leave Tayo with one man saying, “greasers and Indians – we can run them down anytime. But it’s been a couple of years since anybody up here got a mountain lion.” pg99 Rather than looking at his town with a sense of togetherness or unity, the white man feels like he has to be the one in his town to catch a mountain lion. He views the mountain lion as lesser than himself and would be willing to kill...
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