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Ceremony by Leslie Silko

Oct 08, 1999 511 Words
Ceremony by Leslie Silko

The novel Ceremony, written by Leslie Silko deals with the actions of a Native American youth after fighting, and being held captive during World War II. The young mans name is Tayo and upon returning to the U.S., and eventually reservation life he has many feelings of estrangement and apathy towards society. The novel discusses many topics pertaining to Native Americans, through the eyes of Tayo and a few female characters. The novel is one that you must decide for yourself what you believe, and why certain ideas or characters points of view are important.

When reading the novel Ceremony, you must decide what you actually believe, and what situations were only figments of Tayo's stressed mind. Many of these situations occur throughout the book, some are very clear and others have hidden meanings. On a whole I believed what Tayo had to say about the world from his shoes. There are certain instinces that I know what Tayo is seeing is completely impossible.

In Ceremony one must decide why and how the women's perspective is of importance. I believe the reason the women's view is to put a different perspective upon everything that goes on in the book, as compared with the perspective of Tayo. There are two women in the book who put their perspective into the story, one of them is the elderly mistress of Josiah and the other one is Helen Jean who went on one of the many joyrides that Harley and the others went on. These women are actually just a way for the author to explain how the rest of society viewed Tayo. An example of this is when Helen Jean describes Tayo "Too quiet, and not very friendly(161)". Another thing this allows the author to do is to show how the War affected the young women from the reservations. She is able to show you how Helen Jeans life was in just a few pages. Silko was able to show how the Native American war veterans looked to anyone who happened to look upon them, but that wasn't one of them. The perspective of the women also helped to debunk a lot of the stories the men told about the war and their various conquests etc.

Another item for discussion that comes up in Ceremony is what did you as a reader actually learn? Well I learned many things that I found to be interesting, and that I had not known previously. One of these many things that I learned was the fact that during World War II, white America actually "accepted" Native Americans into its culture. White women slept with the Native Americans, as if they were any other military personnel. Even the elderly of society (who are often the most prejudiced) began to come around and accept the Native Americans into society. But this was short lived, once the war was over (and there usefulness to the army) they were returned to the reservation and quickly forgotten by white society.

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