Ceremony: A Novel by Leslie Marmon Silko

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Dr. Michelle Brown
English 325 101
Ceremony Assignment
28 January 2013

Throughout Silko’s novel, Ceremony, a sense of conflict between light and darkness is clearly evident. This struggle is personified mainly through Tayo’s battle within his psyche. Tayo’s struggle with battle fatigue leads him on a quest for purification. With the help of Betonie, an insightful but eccentric medicine man, Tayo discovers the struggles apparent in the world which mirror his own mental constitution. Betonie formulates a reformed ceremony to treat Tayo. This ceremony will not only purify the contamination of Tayo’s soul, but will also address social struggles between the white people and the natives as well as the war between witchery and ceremony. Witchery in the presence of the novel is nearly (if not) as powerful as the ritual of ceremony. Witchery in this context is best defined as secular ideals and the ways of the world. Tayo is plagued by witchery while he searches for a remedy to his shell-shocked state. Tayo turns to alcoholism as a form of self-medication and suffers from depression. Such witchery only stands to worsen his condition. All the craziness (pun intended) in Tayo;s life is a product of the witchery which surrounds him. War and its effects are some of the key offenders of witchery which have impacted Tayo. War has stripped Tayo of his loved ones (Rocky), his social acceptance, and his mind. The foil to the witchery present in Tayo’s society is the ritualistic catharsis manifested in the form of ceremony. It is for this reason Tayo seeks the counsel of Betonie. Betonie’s history as a medicine man and wisdom assist Tayo in his need for a bountiful ceremony. The medicine man guides Tayo through a revolutionary ceremony in hopes of purifying him of the witchery that envelopes him and reestablishing the power of the act. Ironically, the power of ceremony in turn manifested witchery itself. This witchery is represented by the white man,...
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