Analysis of ‘Ceremony’ By Leslie Marmon Silko

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If Native American community adopts the ethics of white traditions that regards them as less than human being, they begin to look down on themselves. In ‘Ceremony’ Leslie Marmon Silko visibly represents this dual bind sociology called internalized domination.

‘Ceremony’ is one of the most reflective and touching works of Native American literature, a story that is itself a ceremony of curative. Tayo, a World War II experienced person of combined lineage, comes back to the Laguna Pueblo stipulation. He is intensely frightened by his experience as a hostage of the Japanese and later offended by the negative response he came across from his community.

Only by throwing himself in the Indian past can he can set in motion to get back the harmony that was taken away from him. Masterfully written, full of sober magnificence of Pueblo saga, ‘Ceremony’ is a use of lasting power.

‘Ceremony’ deals with the gender roles of three women are significant to the development of a character named Tayo who is half-white and half-Indian.

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These three women are Tayo’s birth mother, Auntie, and Old Grandma. His mother left him when he was four years old and that began his sense of emptiness and abandonment. She could not bear to raise a child that brought the reservation shame by her mistake.

Auntie raised Tayo and was the mother figure he lacked. She had no problem accepting to take him, but only to conceal the shame of her younger sister. Auntie was always hesitant toward Tayo as he was not her real son and was also a half-breed.

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For Tayo, this only added to his feeling of displacement and emptiness. She would give her affection and attention to her real son Rocky, but would let Tayo just sit there alone. After the war Auntie nursed him because he was all she had left after Rocky got killed. He would wake up crying after dreaming about how much Josiah had loved him and always hugged him when he was a little child. Now he realized that there was no place left for him and he would never find peace.

Auntie may have been a mother figure to him, but to Tayo she was just someone who looked after him. Old Grandma, unlike Auntie, does accept Tayo and wants what is best for him. When Auntie rejected the idea of a medicine doctor because he’s not full blood, Old Grandma got angry and said that he was her grandson and why should she care what they say anyway. She has been around for many years and doesn’t worry about what other people will say about Tayo or about their family. The significance of Montano to the novel, Ceremony is very powerful and vital to the recovery of Tayo. She lives up in the rim rock and is in touch with the earth and her surroundings in every way.

Being torn between the white world and the Indian world is what leaves Tayo feeling invisible and hollow inside. Montano helps him to become more in touch with his Indian side and to feel the strength and power from the earth. She teaches him the importance of certain plants, flowers, and ceremonies and how they are significant to Indian culture and survival. Tayo falls in love with her, and through his love, he begins to feel alive again. He realizes that he does have a place and that he is not invisible to everyone and to his surroundings. When he is not with her, instead of the nightmares, she fills his dreams.

He woke up one night and thought about the overpowering love he felt for her. He shed tears filled his eyes and the ache in his throat ran deep into his chest. Tayo no longer feels like a walking shadow, but finally a real person with feelings and emotions. It is through Montano that he discovers himself and ultimately is able to deal with being a half-breed in a changing world.

When she finally leaves him, he is able to go on living and remembering all that she taught him. Conclusion: I really enjoyed this story. It was a great portrayal of how family might mistreat you just because you are a little different than them. Sometimes people can’t deal with the fact that a family member is only half of the race that they are. I would definitely recommend this book to others, especially to anyone who feels that they are secluded and have no friends just because they are bi-racial.

     In ‘Ceremony’, the main character, ‘Tayo’ have to come to terms with himself and his near environment upon his come back from World War II. He is distressed from a sort of post disturbing anxiety disorder which has affected him bodily as well as psychologically due to the fact that he has lived as a prisoner of war in Japan. As a result, he must deal with all of the terrible memories when he comes back to stay with his family on the Laguna Pueblo reservation in New Mexico. To complex his problems, Tayo is half Native American and half Caucasian, so he should also deal with the extra pressures of the double culture.

He is torn between the Native American world and the white world, and is unable to feel a secure refuge or belonging. Tayo’s friends and family think that they know the personality of and cure for Tayo’s sickness and depression; though it is only the Native American formal procedures which will really help him. He needs to observe the junction of life and actually realize the cyclical nature of his feelings and measures that he has faced. With the help and good judgment of Old Betonie, Tayo ultimately finds harmony in the Native American ceremonial even surrounded by all of the contradictions currently in America.

In Ceremony, Leslie Marmon Silko exposes the many contradictions present in America today. Be it the government’s policies concerning Native Americans, the American model of courage, or the history which the children study in their classrooms, America is full of sarcasm and paradoxes. These inconsistencies do not in any way cut down the magnificence of America as a country, but to a certain extent serve to remind its people that we do not at all times keep in mind those who helped us turn out to be what we are at present. Silko’s novel is a legendary reminder for Americans to recognize our first true nationalized custom and keep in mind that the Native American tradition is still alive and well today. Silko has demonstrated that America has made blunders in the history, but undoubtedly has the power to put right those mistakes today.


  1. Silko M, Leslie “Ceremony” Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics); Rep edition (March 4, 1986). ISBN-13: 978-0140086836

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Analysis of ‘Ceremony’ By Leslie Marmon Silko. (2017, Apr 04). Retrieved from

Analysis of ‘Ceremony’ By Leslie Marmon Silko

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