A STRUCTURAL ANAYLASIS OF CEREMONY

Length: 8 Pages 1923 Words

Upon opening the novel Ceremony, it is immediately evident that it is unlike any other traditional American or European style of writing. Leslie Marmon Silko, the author of Ceremony, describes Pueblo Indian stories or expressions as a kind of spider web, “with many little threads radiating from the center,” in her paper titled ‘Language and Literature from a Pueblo Indian Perspective.’ She states that as the listener or reader, you simply must trust that meaning will be made as each part of the story emerges. Ceremony is written in this same manner. It is a fragmented story of a young Laguna man whom after returning form war has found himself in great turmoil. He eventually discovers the only way to heal himself is to find out how he fits into the stories and ceremonies of his culture and community by making his own new path along a ceremony that no one before him has embarked upon. In this novel, there is no definite sense of time, but that is the Pueblo Indian perspective, that is how their stories are told, they are stories that “embrace the whole of creation and the whole of history and time,” (Silko ‘Language and …’ 159). Everything is held together much like our thoughts, just like we ourselves are n Continue...


So that much larger question will have to remain unanswered at least for the time being, and maybe forever. You really get the feeling that the reader or listener is very much right in the heart of the story. And that is the way that Pueblo stories are supposed to be. Ceremony greatly contributes to the overall meaning of the novel through its authenticity. Then when they reach a similar point in their life, they have that story as a guide. A spider web is only strong when it is all together, the individual pieces themselves are not strong on their own. Tayo discovers this just as we are readers realize in the end that all the confusion about the structure of the book actually gives us a better understanding of Tayo's whole journey in the end. By writing the novel the way she did, Silko has allowed her culture to continue to survive and be told to new generations. So although at first Ceremony's format could seem daunting and somewhat unnecessary to the unknowing reader, it actually serves to give much greater meaning to a story that otherwise might just be another fiction novel. The listener is right here the whole time, discovering things the along the way, just as Tayo is doing, so that they can learn something in the end. Not only does the style of the book hold true to the ways the Pueblo Indians have always told their stories, but it also allows the reader to put himself in Tayo's shoes in a way not possible through other forms of narrative structure. Tayo learns that telling a story, or finding your own story is a very fragile thing when he meets with Ku'oosh (Silko 35). And even when the story ends, we as readers are still faced with confusion over whether Tayo really is healed. It is not simply a novel about a lost boy, or the horrors of war and how it affected the people in the Laguna community or how the white world and colonization has ruined and tainted the American Indian way of life. It is this format of storytelling that is present in Ceremony, which I believe greatly contributes to the meaning and theme of the novel in a several distinct ways including a sense of authenticity, allowing the reader to become part of the story, making the structure of the novel symbolize Tayo, and finally to create a cyclical pattern throughout the book.