Ruth Benedict’s Ethnography of Pueblo Culture, Patterns of Culture, and Leslie Marmon Silko’s novel Ceremony

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Response Piece – Silko & Benedict
As noted in the response by Janet Tallman, there are three main themes concerning Ruth Benedict’s ethnography of Pueblo culture, Patterns of Culture, and Leslie Marmon Silko’s novel Ceremony. Both detail the importance of matrilineage, harmony and balance versus change, and ceremonies to the Pueblo Indians. It is important to note that Silko gives the reader a first-hand perspective of this lifestyle (she was raised in the Laguna Pueblo Reservation), while Benedict’s book is written from a third-person point of view. Because of this, it was fairly easy to see how much of the actual culture was overlooked or misinterpreted in Benedict’s work. While the above-mentioned themes about Pueblo Indians were
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As the eldest daughter in her family, it is her duty to tend the household, took after her mother, and to raise Tayo after he was abandoned by his mother at a young age.
In contrast to her strict adherence to Pueblo life, she is also a devout Christian. At several times in the story there are references to her polishing her church shoes with great care, or reading out of her large black bible. In Benedict’s ethnography, this would be as result of the culture selecting from among the possible traits in the surrounding region those traits which it could use, and discarding those which it could not (Chapter 3). Her husband Robert represents the role of husband and provider in their matrilineal culture -“he was patient with [their family] because he had nothing to say. The sheep, the horses, and the fields – everything belonged to them, including the good family name (pg. 32).” The only man who was able to assert himself in the family by right is the eldest son, Josiah.
Auntie and Robert’s son Rocky is the representation of Indian youth fully embracing American culture. In another contrast to her set ways, Auntie sees her son as the one way her family will gain respect with the Laguna people again. She sends him to boarding school to learn Western ways, and is proud of his embrace
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