Cultural Healing in Leslie Marmon Silko's Ceremony Essay

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Cultural Healing in Ceremony

Leslie Marmon Silko is a Native American from New Mexico and is part of the Laguna tribe. She received a MacArthur "genius" award and was considered one of the 135 most significant women writers ever. Her home state has named her a living cultural treasure. (Jaskoski, 1) Her well-known novel Ceremony follows a half-breed named Tayo through his realization and healing process that he desperately needs when he returns from the horrors of World War II. This is a process that takes him back to the history of his culture.

Tayo returns home when World War II ends in 1945. He feels alienated from his home and hardly desires to live any longer. He is constantly vomiting as a result
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In order to rid him of the physical and mental sickness that the war and the racial issues brought Tayo, Betonie takes him through a ceremony. In order to complete the ceremony, Betonie tells him to find a woman, stars, cattle, and a mountain. The woman he meets knew beforehand that Tayo would come to see her.

A major focus in the novel is the contrast of the treatment of the land between the Native Americans and the Whites. America holds a convoluted assumption that Indians and Mexicans should feel guilty for stealing things in America, when the whites originally stole everything by stealing the land. This is not only a problem with the Indians and the Whites, for many other groups around the world are experiencing feelings of loss of tradition and alienation from the majority. Ceremony touches on the racial issues that many people are concerned about and frustrated with. In an essay titled "Fences Against Freedom" written by Silko herself, she discusses her frustrations with the potent racial issues that many people are not even aware of. Much of the essay focuses on the boarder patrol policies and the unfairness within those systems. She also touches on the degrading "illegal aliens" label that is put on Mexicans, saying "and I know that I am not alone in my hatred of these racist immigration policies, which are broadcast
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