Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko

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Ceremony is a book about a young man named Tayo who was a prisoner of the Japanese during WWII. He is known as a half breed throughout the whole story, since he is Native American and White. Tayo's survival from the imprisonment had changed his ways of life forever. His mind was taken over by the horrors he has witnessed, the numerous lifeless bodies he has touched; Tayo returns home a wounded man, not of physical weakness, but of mental distortion. Others who have been through the same experiences as him abuse alcohol and use violence as a way for comfort and resolution. But Tayo doesn't want that. His family advices him to seek help, since Tayo is constantly vomiting, passing out, and getting sick. A medicine man of the Native American community is referred to him; Tayo's journey to find a cure for himself is a journey in itself. He discovers new ideas and beliefs of Indians, witchcraft and evil, past and present.

This book is a little hard to comprehend at the beginning, but once you get the hang of it, the story line becomes quite clear. Since it is a narration of Tayo's life, it constantly jumps from his memories of the past to happenings of the present. Silko, however, uses understandable diction and simple syntax to accommodate the confusing storyline. She also does a great job at emphasizing the difference between racism of today and of the past. For example, Tayo is half Native American and White. Throughout his life he's been treated as the outcast, the one that no one wants to hang out with. Everyone can tell by the color of his eyes: it didn't look like everyone else's. His mother was rejected in the native community, since she obviously had intimacy with a white man. Feeling the negativity for several years, Tayo's mother decided to leave him at a very young age, leaving him in the hands of his Auntie. Although he was treated differently by his community, his family treated him and his cousin Rocky as equally as possible. Auntie, on the other hand, always kept a close eye on him, reminding him that he was different, that he and Rocky were nothing more than cousins.

Not only does Silko go very deep within the concept of unequal treatment based on race, she focuses a lot on the Native culture. Explaining a lot of different rituals and ceremonies; how they supposedly treat anything from a drought to an illness. Tayo himself undergoes many of these ceremonies in attempts to relieve himself from pains of the war.





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