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Ceremony “Tayo’s Conflicts” Essay

In Ceremony, Leslie Marmon Silko writes an interesting novel with many conflicting issues on the main characters side, Tayo. One of Tayo’s main conflicts is about his culture and how he is not well accepted by some of the people who coexist with him in his daily life. Other terrifying conflicts that Tayo had were the ones about Josiah and Rocky’s way of dying, which in Tayo’s conscious he declared himself guilty for their death. Therefore, he would have unhealthy psychological flashbacks. Problems compounded with his friends even more when he started hanging out with them after the war. Getting drunk, picking up women and bragging about his war heroics would never make Tayo completely comfortable, instead problems would soon initiate. With these conflicts in mind, Tayo would soon have to resign himself to find the way to recover from his psychological problems.

Tayo’s mixed race between an Indian and Mexican was not well accepted by his native society, therefore Tayo experienced a great deal of cultural conflict. With Tayo being both white and Native American his life was surrounded by a great deal of neglect. He did not identify or felt completely part of one culture or the other, which made him struggle with a lack of knowing where he really belong. Eventually, Tayo improves and is able to better connect with both cultures. He acknowledges the influence of white American culture on his traditional Native American heritage. With his acceptance, Tayo’s life becomes better as he is able to harmonize the two cultures he was born into.

With the death of both his Uncle Josiah and cousin Rocky, Tayo’s mental problems became worst. Tayo became disoriented believing that the man in the Japanese uniform was his Uncle Josiah. When Tayo saw this, he started screaming while Rocky attempted to calm him down, but Rockies words were not helping Tayo settle; for Tayo, his uncle was dead. Tayo faced the same dilemma after his cousin Rocky’s death. He experienced great guilt when Rocky died in a death march in the Pacific. Tayo was very hard on himself because he could not prevent his cousin Rocky from being killed in the war. Although Tayo never fully recovers from this conflict, gradually he will learn to reestablish himself from this drawback.

Getting drunk, picking up women and bragging about his war heroics with his friends, was making Tayo experience more psychological traumas. His problems turn out to be compounded by his friends. Harley and Leroy encourage him to use alcohol as a way to escape from life. However because of Tayo’s deep spirituality, he gets frustrated by his friend’s destructive behavior. When Emo, another Native American veteran starts to brag about how he enjoyed killing people during the war, Tayo’s tension erupts into violent anger and attacks Emo. Luckily Harley and Leroy stopped him before killing Emo. This attempt to fight violence with violence further aggravates Tayo’s psychological alienation.

What I think about Tayo’s frustrating conflicts is that they don’t clarify progress at any point. Tayo will struggle throughout the ceremony because I believe that people that go to war never fully recover psychologically, especially because of what Tayo believed to have seen and lived during and after the war. Because the story goes back and forth, from past to present it confuses the reader. Also, the reader has to understand that stories about people who go to war will always make us have different opinions for the simple reason that people who fought in the line of duty will not come back home well mentally recovered. This is the case with the soldier narrator who plays his part hallucinating throughout the war. The reader faces whether to believe him or his partner who is more conscious and aware of what is really going on. What is your opinion?


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