February 20, 2013
Identity in “Yellow Woman” by Leslie Marmon Silko
“Yellow Woman” by Leslie Marmon Silko is a story about a woman who goes on a journey with a man. On this journey, the narrator, who is assumed to be the woman, is plagued by questions of who she is and if the stories of her culture about what she may be becoming are true. She struggles to find herself and what she wants because she wants to be herself but at the same time, see if she is becoming what her culture’s stories call the “Yellow Woman.” Although the woman struggles to identify her and who she is, she also wants to identify as the Yellow Woman. In other words, the narrator knows who she is, but she wants to be someone else too.
In “Yellow Woman,” the narrator has an internal conflict about whether or not she is the Yellow Woman. In the beginning of the story, the narrator assumes that she is the Yellow Woman, having met a man similar to the man mentioned in the stories of her culture; “But I only said that you were him and that I was Yellow Woman” (Silko, 603). Although the narrator told the man she was the Yellow Woman, on the morning after she meets him, she tries to deny who she is, saying, “I have my own name and I come from the pueblo on the other side of the mesa” (603). Obviously, the narrator does not know who she wants to be. She knows that the way she met the man, whose name is Silva, emulates the way the Yellow Woman once met a man in the stories of her people. She knows that she can leave Silva, as she gets ready to in the beginning of the story, but because of her doubts, the woman stays whenever he tells her to.
Silva has a powerful hold over the narrator, causing her to question herself. In the beginning of the story, when the narrator wakes up, she prepares herself to leave Silva where he is and go back home. When she tells him that she is leaving, Silva reminds her that she is “coming with [him]” (602). He reinforces her...