Sunday, May 15, 2011

Family dynamics

So, another post about Leslie Marmon Silko's Ceremony.

I'm only about halfway through it (and if my professor is reading this I would like to assure him that I will have the book finished by our next class, I promise!) and I've noticed some interesting family dynamics. Specifically, family dynamics between Tayo, Rocky, and Auntie.

SOME SPOILERS, I GUESS

First, you've got to realize that this is a Native American story. Second, I've got to explain the characters.

Tayo -- His mother was Auntie's younger sister. We don't know too much about her (at least not yet) but we do know that she apparently slept around with quite a few men, and that Tayo's father is white. So, Tayo is a "half breed". And yes, those words do get used. By Tayo himself, unless I'm greatly mistaken. Of course, there's so much more to Tayo than his parentage, but Auntie doesn't seem to realize that.

Auntie -- Tayo's aunt, who raised him since her younger sister dumped him on her doorstep when he was just four years old. She doesn't approve of Tayo because of the shame his mother caused the family (or at any rate, that caused her) by having a child by a white man.

Rocky -- Auntie's son, and Tayo's cousin. He's pure blood Native American, and yet he is less Native American than Tayo. He wants to be a white man: his plans as a high school student were to leave the reservation, and he had no plans to return. He abandons old customs that Tayo holds to, as seen when they kill a deer: Tayo covers the head of the carcass with his coat to show respect, and Rocky, even though he knows this is the tradition, asks Tayo what he's doing.

So we've got Tayo, who Auntie despises because his father is white, even though Tayo is 100% Native American so far as I can tell. And Rocky, who is pure blood Native American, and who Auntie loves, and yet he's the one who's trying to join the white man's world.

It seems to me that Auntie just just punishing Tayo because she disapproved of his mother, because the above doesn't make sense. Not that it isn't believable -- people often don't make sense, and even though Auntie is acting illogically she seems very real.

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