Ceremony

Auntie (Thelma) Character Analysis

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,” Auntie also takes care of Tayo out of a sense of duty to the traditional values of the tribe. Even so, her insistence on the importance of Native American “purity” is portrayed in the novel as contributing needlessly to a loveless family life for Tayo, and her strict Christianity is depicted as actually alienating her from the Pueblo community and as motivating her to act cruelly toward Tayo and Little Sister as opposed to trying to bring them back into balance with the tribe. Auntie’s strictness, her stinginess with love, her way of thinking like an individual as opposed to seeking a balance with a tribe, are all portrayed in the novel as being both destructive and influenced by white culture.

Auntie (Thelma) Quotes in Ceremony

The Ceremony quotes below are all either spoken by Auntie (Thelma) or refer to Auntie (Thelma). For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Interconnected World Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Books edition of Ceremony published in 2006.
Section 2 Quotes

“You know what people will say if we ask for a medicine man to help him. Someone will say it's not right. They'll say, 'Don't do it. He's not full blood anyway."'

Related Characters: Auntie (Thelma) (speaker), Tayo, Grandmother
Page Number: 30
Explanation and Analysis:

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Section 3 Quotes

She was careful that Rocky did not share these things with Tayo, that they kept a distance between themselves and him. But she would nor let Tayo go outside or play in another room alone. She wanted him close enough to feel excluded, to be aware of the distance between them.

Related Characters: Tayo, Rocky, Auntie (Thelma)
Page Number: 62
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Christianity separated the people from themselves; it tried to crush the single clan name, encouraging each person to stand alone, because Jesus Christ would save only the individual soul; Jesus Christ was not like the Mother who loved and cared for them as her children, as her family.

Related Characters: Auntie (Thelma)
Page Number: 62-63
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Auntie (Thelma) Character Timeline in Ceremony

The timeline below shows where the character Auntie (Thelma) appears in Ceremony. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Section 1
The Interconnected World Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
...Rocky promised to buy her a kerosene stove with his army pay. After Rocky died, Auntie bought Grandmother a stove with some of Rocky’s insurance money. (full context)
The Interconnected World Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
Auntie and Old Grandma still talk about Rocky and his plans to go to college and... (full context)
Section 2
Cultural Dominance, Purity, and Hybridity Theme Icon
When Tayo returns to New Laguna from the Veteran’s Hospital, Auntie takes care of him. Tayo knows that Auntie does this out of duty, not love,... (full context)
The Interconnected World Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
Auntie still makes Rocky and Josiah’s beds when she comes into the room to check on... (full context)
The Interconnected World Theme Icon
Ceremony, Tradition and Adaptation Theme Icon
Old Grandma and Robert, Auntie’s husband, mostly leave Tayo alone as he recovers. Now that Josiah is dead, Robert must... (full context)
The Interconnected World Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
Cultural Dominance, Purity, and Hybridity Theme Icon
Old Grandma sends for Ku’oosh despite Auntie’s protests that a medicine man will reignite gossip about Tayo’s mother and her wild ways.... (full context)
Native Americans in the Modern World Theme Icon
Ceremony, Tradition and Adaptation Theme Icon
...ignores all the old, native ways. Old Grandma scolds Rocky for rejecting his family, but Auntie is proud that her son will redeem their family in the white world. (full context)
Section 3
Native Americans in the Modern World Theme Icon
Cultural Dominance, Purity, and Hybridity Theme Icon
Tayo went to live with Auntie when he was 4 years old. He can remember small details about his mother, her... (full context)
Native Americans in the Modern World Theme Icon
Cultural Dominance, Purity, and Hybridity Theme Icon
...Rocky and Tayo started school, Rocky pulls away from everyone in the family. Tayo understands Auntie much better than Rocky does, spending more time with her while Rocky plays sports at... (full context)
The Interconnected World Theme Icon
Cultural Dominance, Purity, and Hybridity Theme Icon
...on the rest of the Laguna community, and no one can have any peace until Auntie brings Little Sister back into harmony with the tribe once more. Instead of doing so,... (full context)
The Interconnected World Theme Icon
Native Americans in the Modern World Theme Icon
Cultural Dominance, Purity, and Hybridity Theme Icon
...that he is supposed to stay and help Josiah with the ranch after Rocky graduates. Auntie is angry at their enlistment, but tells Tayo he can go on the condition that... (full context)
Cultural Dominance, Purity, and Hybridity Theme Icon
Auntie is also angry about the cattle deal, thinking that Josiah has somehow been tricked by... (full context)
The Interconnected World Theme Icon
Cultural Dominance, Purity, and Hybridity Theme Icon
...Indian Josiah does the many times his truck is parked outside of Night Swan’s apartment. Auntie is livid about the rumors, claiming that Old Grandma is scandalized by what the town... (full context)
Cultural Dominance, Purity, and Hybridity Theme Icon
...while he focuses on the cattle. The ranch hand, Mike, is an excellent worker, but Auntie does not trust him because he is an Apache. Mike leaves the ranch to become... (full context)
Storytelling Theme Icon
Cultural Dominance, Purity, and Hybridity Theme Icon
...to go into the army, and spending his afternoons in Paguete with his new girlfriend. Auntie frets about the girlfriend, but can’t reprimand her favored son. Meanwhile, old Grandma starts to... (full context)
Section 4
The Interconnected World Theme Icon
Ceremony, Tradition and Adaptation Theme Icon
Cultural Dominance, Purity, and Hybridity Theme Icon
Tayo tells Betonie about Night Swan’s hazel eyes and Auntie’s suspicions that Night Swan was evil all along. Betonie does not respond to Tayo’s questions... (full context)
Section 7
Ceremony, Tradition and Adaptation Theme Icon
Cultural Dominance, Purity, and Hybridity Theme Icon
...Betonie did some good after all. Tayo agrees, but he dreams of the woman constantly. Auntie looks at Tayo as if she is waiting for him to relapse at any moment. (full context)
The Interconnected World Theme Icon
Native Americans in the Modern World Theme Icon
...her. Tayo decides to go live at his uncle’s old ranch house again that May. Auntie agrees as long as none of the other veterans go there to drink. Old Grandma... (full context)
Section 8
The Interconnected World Theme Icon
Cultural Dominance, Purity, and Hybridity Theme Icon
Auntie avoids Tayo now that Tayo has visited Ku’oosh, saying that the other women from the... (full context)
The Interconnected World Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
One day, Auntie comes home from church bursting with the news that Pinkie has been killed. Emo shot... (full context)