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This essay provides a reflection on the novel “Ceremony” written by Marmon Silko who is a Native American novelist, poet, and a short-story writer. The novel “Ceremony” is a story about a World War II veteran named Tayo who is half-white struggling to survive in the New Mexico Indian reservation after returning from war. During his early age, his mother left him at the age of four years and other women who molded his character raised him. This essay is a reflection on the gender roles that the women contribute to Tayo’s character. The four women in the novel are his mother, aunt, grandma, and Ts’eh.
Having a mixed ancestry of half white and half Native American, he discovered that he has a natural cultural flow imposed on him at birth that lingered and expanded to adulthood. His mother had left him at the age of four years because of the influence of alcohol. He was left to be brought up by his aunt and grandma. He cried at length because he knew his mother would be gone for long. At this time, the aunt became a mother figure to him after she reluctantly accepted the responsibility of taking care of him to hide the shame brought by his mother.
His aunt was at first reluctant because he was not his real son and because he was of a different race. Through the aunt’s hesitance, it made him feel displaced in the society. The aunt gave most of her affection to Rocky her own son, and she made Tayo feel excluded most of the time. The ill treatment by the aunt was occasioned when the other family members were absent, but she was obliged to treat Tayo as her own son when everybody else was present. This treatment by the aunt could only add misery to his life because it made him think a lot about his mother.
After the war, the aunt nursed Tayo because he was the only option that she was left with after her son succumbed in the war. Tayo had a hard time to adapt to the new life because Josiah who was close to him during their childhood days had died. Tayo felt that he would not live in peace because he realized that there was no place left for him. In his mind, he viewed the aunt as someone who has just taken care of him, but not as responsible as a mother.
Contrary to the aunt, the grandma viewed Tayo as her own blood, and she wanted the best for him. This was shown when she suggested a medicine man to treat him after he returned from the war. The love that the grandma expressed gave Tayo a sense of belonging. However, he did not heal fully until he met and fell in love with Ts’eh who was tremendously influential in the healing process. She helped him to encounter the Indian race, which gave him strength and power.
Silko uses the four women to reveal the life of an individual who is of different races. The ceremony reflects the struggle of the Indian-Americans in the society. Through the novel, we learn that the whites have been discriminating other races because of their skin color. Many individuals struggle to be recognized in the society that was dominated by the White race. The novel has enabled the Indians reflect on their culture and the whites intrusion in it.
In conclusion, the “Ceremony” is a story that analyzes the life of an Indian-American man who has gone through many challenges, to achieve peace in life. In his early years, his mother left because of the influence of alcohol, and his aunt is hesitant to take the responsibility because Tayo is of a different race. When the aunt's son is killed in the war, the aunt is compelled to nurse Tayo despite his grand mum suggesting a medicine man to be responsible. Tayo rediscovers himself after meeting and falling in love with Ts’eh.