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Ceremony: Native Americans in the United States Essay

In Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony, the use of storytelling is quite prevalent. Within the framework of Ceremony there are references of the tradition of Native American storytelling along with the progression of telling a story. Storytelling within the Native American culture is oral, traditionally. The method of storytelling within Ceremony at the beginning lays down the framework of the entire book.

Silko starts out the novel with a series of stories. The first of which is about Ts’its’tsi’nako (or more easily said) “Thought Women”, who thinks of things and they appear. She happens to be thinking of a story and it just so happens to be the story being told to us. This then leads us to the next story (1).

The next story turns out to be a story about stories. This story tells us (the reader) the importance of stories, and that they aren’t merely for entertainment, but are used to fight off death and illness. The narrator then states, “You don’t have anything, if you don’t have the stories.” Thus telling us the true importance of the stories of Native American culture, seeing as everything was passed down orally, and not much was written down if any at all (2).

Now, for Tayo, these stories embody the understanding of the Native American world Tayo grew up with. Only the army, the doctors, and the white schools try to convince Tayo that the stories are wrong. As Tayo recreates and recalls the old tales, he begins to reunite with the community, pulls through the trauma of war, and ultimately brings back the rain to his land. Tayo learns from these stories that he is not alone, because the stories are shared within a community, and because the contents of the stories show him that others have shared like experiences (Notes/Class Discussions).

The rest of the stories within the text of Ceremony announce elements that will reoccur within the novel. As the story is told either by a single person or by a group of people, it can fashion between those people a sense of community. As stated previously, that stories have the power to fight of death and illness. The stories contain the ceremonies and rituals that have the ability to cure individuals and the communities. Stories are able to provide this ability by restoring the affiliations betwixt all things and people.

The stories within Ceremony are an integral part of the story line. The stories within the novel show us how important they are to the Native American culture and way of life. They provide us with the impending points of the plot, of how a ceremony is what can cure the people.


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