Ceremony

Ceremony Characters

Tayo

A Laguna Pueblo man with a white father, Tayo returns to the Laguna reservation after World War II sick in mind and body after the trauma of war. Tayo grew up homeless with his mother… (read full character analysis)

Harley

Tayo’s friend and a fellow war veteran. Harley is an alcoholic who tries to find the joke in every situation, which the novel portrays as an attempt to hide from the emptiness of his… (read full character analysis)

Rocky

Tayo’s cousin. Rocky is an A student and a star player on the high school football team. He believes that he must reject all the traditional native ways in order to be successful in… (read full character analysis)

Emo

Another Laguna war veteran who believes in the necessity of racial purity among Native people in order to escape oppression by white people. Emo hates all white people for the things they have stolen from… (read full character analysis)

Josiah

Tayo’s uncle and Auntie’s older brother. He teaches Tayo about the traditional native ways, with lessons that help Tayo see how to respect the land and the spiritual elements that help humanity survive… (read full character analysis)
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Auntie (Thelma)

Tayo’s aunt, and Rocky’s mother. Thelma is a Christian Laguna woman, who stubbornly resents Tayo for his mixed blood and the gossip he invites about their family. Despite her bitterness towards these “sins,”… (read full character analysis)

Little Sister (Laura)

Tayo’s mother and Auntie’s younger sister. After internalizing the discrimination towards Native Americans, Laura becomes an alcoholic and shames the Laguna community by sleeping with men of many different ethnicities. She gets pregnant… (read full character analysis)

Grandmother

Tayo’s grandmother. She believes firmly in the value of following old traditional ways, and teaches Tayo the old stories and rituals as a child. Unlike Auntie, Grandmother fully accepts Tayo as a member… (read full character analysis)

Ku’oosh

A Pueblo Laguna medicine man. He performs a healing ritual on Tayo, but admits to Tayo that the old rituals no longer work in the modern world as they used to. Indeed, the ceremony… (read full character analysis)

Betonie

A Navajo medicine man who is able to heal Tayo by combining traditional rituals with modern, multicultural elements. Betonie’s green eyes and Mexican grandmother show his own connection to hybridity, which the novel makes clear… (read full character analysis)

Night Swan

A Mexican woman who Uncle Josiah loves. Night Swan was a cantina dancer all over the southwest, and was even run out of town for her “improper” relationships with men of other races. Night Swan… (read full character analysis)
Minor Characters
Ts’eh
A Montaño woman who helps Tayo on his quest to find his uncle’s cattle, and falls in love with Tayo in the process. Ts’eh follows the traditional native ways and may or may not be the Reed Woman of Laguna legends.
Corn Mother (Nau’ts’ity’i)
A goddess of the Pueblo Native tradition, who helps the people care for the crops but can take away the rain if she is neglected.
Reed Woman
A goddess in the Pueblo Native tradition who has the power to take away the rain clouds. Ts’eh, a montaño Native American woman, may or may not be the human form of the Reed Woman.
Fly
A character in the mythic Laguna Pueblo tale of the Corn Mother. Fly is a messenger for the people who helps them get the rain clouds back.
Hummingbird
A character in the mythic Laguna Pueblo tale of the Corn Mother.
Old Buzzard
A character in the mythic Laguna Pueblo tale of the Corn Mother, who purifies the town in exchange for tobacco.
Caterpillar
A character in the mythic Laguna Pueblo tale of the Corn Mother, who gives Hummingbird and Fly tobacco.
Robert
Auntie’s husband. A quiet, easy-going man who takes care of the ranch after Uncle Josiah dies.
Pinkie
Tayo’s cousin, who suffers from alcoholism.
Leroy
Another Pueblo man from Laguna, a war veteran who is friends with Emo and Harley.
Helen Jean
A Native Laguna woman who sleeps with men in order to borrow money for rent. She tends to avoid Native American men because she assumes that they are poor.
Mike
An Apache ranch hand who helps Josiah with the hybrid cattle for a few weeks.
The Hunter
Ts’eh’s brother, and another mythic character in Laguna stories. The Hunter is connected to the mountain lions, as he can be a mountain lion at times and is helped by mountain lions. Tayo initially believes that The Hunter is Ts’eh’s husband.
Descheeny
Betonie’s grandfather who married a Mexican woman.
Ulibarri
The Mexican rancher who sells Uncle Josiah the hybrid cows.
Shush
Betonie’s helper, whose name means “bear.”
Floyd Lee
A white logger who steals Josiah’s cows.