The Novel “Ceremony” by Leslie Marmon Silko

Table of Contents


As seen in the novel Ceremony, Leslie Marmon Silko narrates a story about Tayo who is the focal character in the novel. He needs to adjust to his environment after coming home from WWII. Tayo experiences disturbances since he lived as a war prisoner in Japan; thus, affecting him bodily and emotionally.

Tayo is worried about how he will interact with his family in Mexico and his bi-cultureless problems since he was partial-Caucasian and partial-Native American. According to Tayo’s family members, they believe that the only solution to his problems is through practicing Native American Rituals that will help him to streamline life; thus, understanding the originality of his emotions.

Finally, Old Betonie applies different means to ensure that the Native American ceremonies give Tayo peace (Silko 2). In the novel Ceremony, different formalities happen and Tayo participates in each one, which acts as a manner of reincorporation with his Native American culture. The entire novel talks about the celebration of unrelated brief ceremonies, and this describes why the novel itself is a ceremony.

In the novel’s plots, the author chooses different ceremonies as they either start or end. To Tayo, these ceremonies were a transitional stage since, in ancient times in Pueblo (Tayo’s community), the community members performed ceremonies after the returning of warriors from fighting because they avoided stains caused by fighting destruction (Walther 9).

Theme of storytelling

Storytelling is an aspect that happens to human beings because they are capable of using words to pass information amongst individuals and generations. The concept of storytelling is only possible for humans because the trial of teaching non-human creatures has not been successful.

According to the Ceremony, the word story refers to factors that contribute to the identification of a story. A story can either be real or fictitious, possess realistic situations or fantasy. Therefore, a story provides the narrator or writer with the freedom to explore any type of genre around the globe. This novel Ceremony backs this concept because it has all forms of freedom in telling its stories (Walther 3).

In the ceremony, storytelling does not major on the general process involved in storytelling; instead, it focuses on how the Native American traditions used to tell stories. In ancient times, all the Native American cultures on biology, history, morality, medicine among others transferred among different generations through storytelling.

In their culture, the title “official storyteller” belonged to the elders who made storytelling to become a communal event. The main aim of storytelling is to transfer information among dissimilar individuals and generations. Stories are rhythmic, entail repetition and sometimes presented in the custom of a song.

In the novel ceremony, these approaches of storytelling occurred as a poem, which surrounded a novel ceremony narrative at both the beginning and end. The stories told in the novel ceremony about Pueblo culture are real stories that exist outside the novel context (Walther 3).

In the ceremony, there is a narration of brief dissimilar stories, which include stories on war narrated by Harley, Emo among other novices. We also see Old Betonie and Night Swan narrating part of their stories as Tayo claims to remember a story that Rocky told him.

Old Betonie claims that, there a time that Tayo’s aunt distracted him during a vital part of the story. At the start of the novel Ceremony, the novel asserts that the whole narrative in it represents a story. Within the novel, the author indicated that storytelling ranked to be the foremost matter compared to other ethical concerns entailed in the story.

From the novel, it is true that from stories told by other people, Silko’s story in the novel emerged to be extraordinary because it resulted in major changes, which modified the modern World. In addition to that, it emerges that stories are capable of healing as they create rituals and formalities, which enhance individual and community healing (Domina 9).

As the novel commences, Tayo’s grandmother communicates with Tayo’s aunt, and she tells her how she is aware of bad stories regarding an individual who was backbiting them. The narratives say that Tayo’s aunt feels happy on the fact that other people gossip about her family, after her conversation Tayo’s grandmother, she now understands why her story instigates the many gossips regarding her family.

Here, it comes to recognize that a shared story amongst two persons creates a sense of community between them because they both understood why people were gossiping their family. Before termination of this narrative in the novel Ceremony, Tayo’s grandmother recites two ceremonial poems. This happens after portraying a story on how Pinkie died in Emo’s hands, and she got bored because she had repeatedly heard that story.

She says, “It seems like I already heard these stories before”…. “Only thing is the names sound different” (Silko 260). This meant how different people usually narrate the same story to her (Domina 10) In the novel Ceremony, storytelling enhances the efficacy of the narrative.

For example, during the scalp ceremony, Ku’oosh told Tayo “this World is fragile,” (Silko 35), in clarifying the meaning of the World being fragile, Ku’oosh uses varying stories to elaborate sense in his statement, and according to the novel, this showed how storytelling leads to effectiveness narratives. These stories were also important to Tayo after returning from war as they erased all the painful memories that he had regarding World War II and his prison life in Japan.

Leslie Marmon Silko of novel Ceremony tells a story regarding her life; she says that she originated from the Pueblo community found in New Mexico. Silko identifies herself to be a Native American and her culture highly values storytelling. She insists that the foremost reason for writing her novel was to enhance her sane life and categorize the Native American foundation in her.

Furthermore, she highlighted the differences that existed amongst the Native American and the Euro-American cultures. Here, Silko asserts that for Tayo to balance with his mental state, he should formulate stories that support both cultures of his origin (Silko 12)

In the novel Ceremony, Silko applies nonlinear mythic stories and requires the reader to link these stories to the personality of the persons in the novel. As such, Silko intended to involve readers to participate in the creation of her written stories to be similar to what happens in oral stories. The strengthening of storytelling as a theme in the novel Ceremony emerges where Silko uses different types of storytelling narratives in the novel (Walter 9).

The entire novel Ceremony narrates Tayo’s story. The novel indicates that Tayo is a Native America but with two different origins from Laguna Pueblo. The novel tells a story of how Tayo is stressful due to issues arising from his childhood and the experiences he encountered in World War II. The novel tells us the recovery of Tayo from his problems through practicing dissimilar Native American cultures such as practicing rituals and ceremonies.

According to diverse authors, use of storytelling techniques enhances and improves the structure of their works. Firstly, storytelling creates and reminds individuals about their social experience in oral narratives by including linguistic features. As a result, storytelling tends to act as a link between oral and literature.

With knowledge in both oral and literature, communication among individuals improves because it enhances interaction. In literature, storytelling improves the literary processes as it creates a theme of view, plot, settings, symbols, themes, and characterization. Lastly, individuals’ comprehension skills grow through storytelling because it entails judicious questioning and retelling strategies (Greene & Augusta 1).


The field of storytelling is an interesting part of literature that has been on study for quite some time now. Different individuals conduct studies concerning the subject; for example, Walter Ong researched to establish the differences existing among spoken and written storytelling.

Ruth Finnegan also examined the differences that exist among oral and morality. These researchers have also discussed the benefits of storytelling to languages, cultures, and writings. Therefore, people should note and apply storytelling in contemporary World, as it is beneficial.

For example in the novel Ceremony by Silko, storytelling played different roles, which included, offering powers to heal, since, through storytelling, Tayo realized that the only solution to his problems was through performing rituals and ceremonies. In novel Ceremony, stories told by involved characters shaped community sense among themselves.

Works Cited

Domina, Lynn. Understanding Ceremony: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 2004. Print

Greene, Ellin. & Augusta, Baker. Storytelling: Art and Technique. Westport, Conn: Libraries Unlimited, 2005. Print.

Silko, Leslie. Ceremony. New York, NY: Penguin Books, 2007. Print.

Walther, Berenice. Storytelling in Leslie Marmon Silkos̕ Ceremony. München, Ravensburg: Grin Verl, 2006. Print

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