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
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
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.