Ceremony Essay

Good Essays


"They fear

They fear the world.

They destroy what they fear.

They fear themselves."

"They will kill the things they fear

all the animals

the people will starve."

"They will fear what they find

They will fear the people

They kill what they fear" (Silko 136).

	Leslie Marmon Silko uses these three short passages taken from an ancient Indian story included in the novel Ceremony to express and convey the idea that the white man’s fear was the primary factor contributing to their negative actions toward the Indian people. The ancient Indian story that the passages are pulled from also explains how Indian witchery led to the invention of the white people …show more content…

So they try to destroy the stories

let the stories be confused or forgotten.

They would like that

They would be happy

Because we would be defenseless then" (Silko 2).

For example, one day Josiah found a bunch of dead flies in the house and confronted Tayo about it. Josiah asked why he did it and Tayo replied that the teacher at school said flies are bad because they carry sickness and disease. The white teachers had taught him something against his culture because Indians are supposed to respect all life forms on the earth. Josiah told him the story of how the greenbottle flies are special messengers and how he should remember the story next time he thinks about killing a fly or any animal for that matter.

Old Betonie, the medicine man, recalled a time when the white people were extremely fearful of Indians. He said, "I was at the World’s fair in St. Louis, Missouri, the year they had Geronimo there on display. The white people were scared to death of him. Some of them even wanted him in leg irons" (Silko 122). Instead of appreciating Geronimo for his unique culture, he was disrespected and treated as a freak show exhibit. The white people did not try to learn about his background or interact with him because they were too fearful to look past his differences and accept him as a fellow human being.

The white man introduced alcohol (firewater) to the Indians in an attempt to control them, manipulate them, and take advantage of them.

Get Access