The Power of the Native American Story

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The Power of the Native American Story

Norah AlJunaidi

Stephanie Fegan
AP Lang and Composition
20 December 2013

The Power of the Native American Story
The story is the most powerful tool in Native American culture passed down through generations. Stories connect them to the past, the present and their surroundings. However the world is always changing, and because of this, some Native Americans have lost their connection to their culture. In Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko, Tayo is going through this loss, along with many other characters in the novel, and has to use the stories to reconnect with his culture and help others do the same. Leslie Marmon Silko’s characters, structure, and symbols develop the argument that remembering Native American cultural and spiritual roots in the modern world is essential for their culture to survive and for them to achieve inner peace.

Tayo, Emo, and Harley are characters that prove that the stories are what keeps you connected to yourself and the world by representing the difference between the people who learn the stories and the ones who don’t. In Ceremony, Tayo, Emo, and Harley all feel misplaced after the war. They all suffered, but Tayo goes to Betonie to get help. Emo and Harley, on the other hand, turn to alcohol. “Liquor was the medicine for the anger that made him hurt, for the pain of the loss, medicine for tight bellies and choked up throats” (40). Harley used jokes to forget about the pain and Emo even glorified his time in the war. Because Emo and Harley never learned the stories, they stayed this way through the entire novel, always pushing down their feelings down and trying to disguise their pain as pride and glory. After Tayo meets Betonie, he heals little by little with each ceremony. The scalp ceremony has a big impact on Tayo’s mental state. “[It] lays to rest the Japanese souls on the green humid jungles”, and helps Tayo forget about the deaths fo Josiah and Rocky. Right...