Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko: Evolving Traditions

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Evolving Traditions
In the novel, Ceremony, Leslie Marmon Silko writes about an Indian veteran and his struggle to deal with the stresses of war. Early in the novel Silko reveals some of the rituals that the Laguna Indians perform. One of these traditions is the ritual they go through after they have hunted in order to show their appreciation for the animal, in this case a deer. Some of the other Laguna traditions include the rain dances they perform during a draught and various other ceremonies. After returning from the war a traditional medicine man, Ku’oosh attempts to cure Tayo of his war-sickness but fails because his warrior ceremony is outdated. Therefore he refers him to another medicine man, Betonie, who may be more able to help him with his white-war-sickness. The Laguna traditions are very important to keeping the culture alive, even though Tayo is half white; the Laguna tradition of ceremonies turns out to be his cure. One of the traditional Laguna customs is the ritual performed, in this case, after killing a deer for food. In the novel Rocky and Tayo are out hunting and after they have killed the animal Tayo approaches the deer remembering that he always dreamt of petting a deer, so he “knelt and touched the nose…it was still warm…he knew it would not last” (50). Tayo appreciated this deer and how it unwillingly sacrificed itself in order to be food. On the other hand, Rocky did not believe in or follow the Laguna traditions. As Rocky was preparing to gut the deer, Tayo removed his jacket and placed it over its head out of respect, Rocky, despite knowing the answer, asked Tayo why he covered the head. When Rocky and Tayo’s uncles, Josiah and Robert approached the boys beside the deer, they removed the jacket and sprinkled cornmeal on the nose. The cornmeal was to feed the deer’s soul and that way other deer would continue to die for them each year, “they had to show their love and respect, [and] their appreciation” (53). Not only were...
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