Ceremony Essay, Research Paper
In Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony, the gender roles of three women are significant to the development of Tayo as being half-white and half-Indian. 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 willingly accepted to take him, but only to “conceal the shame of her younger sister (29)”. Auntie was always hesitant toward Tayo as he was not her real son and was also a half-breed. 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 child (32). Now he realized that there was no place left for him and he would never find peace (32). 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 (33). 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 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. “Tears filled his eyes and the ache in his throat ran deep into his chest (218).” 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.