Ceremony

Betonie Character Analysis

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 gives him the strength and knowledge to help guide Tayo toward a future for Native peoples that builds on the old ways but adapts to the new conditions of “white culture” in America. Betonie is feared by the other Navajo of Gallup, but he cares far more for the ultimate well-being of the earth than for making other people comfortable. Betonie recognizes that Tayo also is hesitant when they first meet, but Tayo is eventually able to see Betonie’s good heart through the old man’s eccentricities. In the novel, Betonie acts as a patient agent for change that will benefit the southwest region rather than add to its destruction.

Betonie Quotes in Ceremony

The Ceremony quotes below are all either spoken by Betonie or refer to Betonie. 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 4 Quotes

There was something about the way the old man said the word "comfortable." It had a different meaning-not the comfort of big houses or rich food or even clean streets, but the comfort of belonging with the land, and the peace of being with these hills.

Related Characters: Betonie
Page Number: 108
Explanation and Analysis:

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The people nowadays have an idea about the ceremonies. They think the ceremonies must be performed exactly as they have always been done, maybe because one slip-up or mistake and the whole ceremony must be stopped and the sand painting destroyed. That much is true. They think that if a singer tampers with any part of the ritual, great harm can be done, great power unleashed…That much can be true also. But long ago when the people were given these ceremonies, the changing began, if only in the aging of the yellow gourd rattle or the shrinking of the skin around the eagle's claw, if only in the different voices from generation to generation, singing the chants. You see, in many ways, the ceremonies have always been changing."

Related Characters: Betonie (speaker), Tayo
Page Number: 116
Explanation and Analysis:

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Some people act like witchery is responsible for every- thing that happens, when actually witchery only manipulates a small portion." He pointed in the direction the boy had gone. "Accidents happen, and there's little we can do. But don't be so quick to call something good or bad. There are balances and harmonies always shifting, always necessary to maintain.

Related Characters: Betonie (speaker), Tayo
Page Number: 120
Explanation and Analysis:

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Take it back.
Call that story back."
But the witch just shook its head
at the others in their stinking animal skins, fur and feathers.
It's already turned loose.
It's already coming.
It can't be called back.

Related Characters: Betonie (speaker)
Page Number: 128
Explanation and Analysis:

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'it never has been easy. It will take a long long time and many more stories like this one before they are laid low. …
"He reasoned that because it was set loose by witchery of all the world, and brought to them by the whites, the ceremony against it must be the same. …
This is the only way,' she told him. 'It cannot be done alone.
'We must have power from everywhere. Even the power we can get from the whites.'

Related Characters: Betonie (speaker), Tayo, Descheeny
Page Number: 139
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.

Section 5 Quotes

So he had gone, not expecting to find anything more than the winter constellation in the north sky overhead; but suddenly Betonie's vision was a story he could feel happening - from the stars and the woman, the mountain and the cattle would come.

Related Characters: Tayo, Betonie
Page Number: 173
Explanation and Analysis:

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Betonie Character Timeline in Ceremony

The timeline below shows where the character Betonie appears in Ceremony. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Section 4
Native Americans in the Modern World Theme Icon
Ceremony, Tradition and Adaptation Theme Icon
Ku’oosh has sent Tayo to Gallup to see a medicine man named Betonie. Gallup is known for the Gallup Ceremonial, an annual event organized by white men “celebrating”... (full context)
Cultural Dominance, Purity, and Hybridity Theme Icon
Betonie can see that Tayo is unsure of his eccentric ways, and tells Tayo he can... (full context)
Ceremony, Tradition and Adaptation Theme Icon
Cultural Dominance, Purity, and Hybridity Theme Icon
...sees traditional medicine man paraphernalia as well as ceremonial objects and layers of old calendars. Betonie explains that he needs all of these things to continue doing the old ceremonies nowadays.... (full context)
The Interconnected World Theme Icon
Ceremony, Tradition and Adaptation Theme Icon
Betonie notices that a hair has come loose from his mustache and he carefully locks the... (full context)
The Interconnected World Theme Icon
Cultural Dominance, Purity, and Hybridity Theme Icon
Tayo tells Betonie about feeling like invisible white smoke when he was in the Veteran’s Hospital. Betonie says... (full context)
The Interconnected World Theme Icon
Native Americans in the Modern World Theme Icon
Cultural Dominance, Purity, and Hybridity Theme Icon
Tayo tells Betonie about seeing Uncle Josiah die in the Philippines, wearing a Japanese uniform. Tayo admits that... (full context)
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.... (full context)
Ceremony, Tradition and Adaptation Theme Icon
Betonie describes the changes that he has had to make to the traditional ceremonies in order... (full context)
The Interconnected World Theme Icon
Native Americans in the Modern World Theme Icon
Betonie and Tayo walk outside, and Tayo comments on all the land in Gallup that was... (full context)
The Interconnected World Theme Icon
Ceremony, Tradition and Adaptation Theme Icon
Betonie introduces Tayo to his helper, Shush, whose name means “bear.” Betonie begins to tell a... (full context)
The Interconnected World Theme Icon
Native Americans in the Modern World Theme Icon
Ceremony, Tradition and Adaptation Theme Icon
Betonie stops the story to remind Tayo that witchery is only responsible for a small portion... (full context)
Native Americans in the Modern World Theme Icon
Ceremony, Tradition and Adaptation Theme Icon
Tayo starts to tell Betonie about Emo and Rocky, because he is reminded of them by the neon lights of... (full context)
Native Americans in the Modern World Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
Ceremony, Tradition and Adaptation Theme Icon
Betonie reminds Tayo that white people are not purely evil, they are simply one tool that... (full context)
Native Americans in the Modern World Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
Betonie, Shush, and Tayo ride on horseback into the foothills of the Chuska mountains outside Gallup.... (full context)
Ceremony, Tradition and Adaptation Theme Icon
Cultural Dominance, Purity, and Hybridity Theme Icon
...and dreams about speckled cattle that constantly outrun him, heading south. When he wakes up, Betonie and Shush are nowhere to be found. Tayo surveys the unbroken mesa of black sand.... (full context)
Storytelling Theme Icon
Cultural Dominance, Purity, and Hybridity Theme Icon
Betonie starts to tell a story about his grandfather, Descheeny. Descheeny was with a Navajo hunting... (full context)
Storytelling Theme Icon
Ceremony, Tradition and Adaptation Theme Icon
Cultural Dominance, Purity, and Hybridity Theme Icon
Betonie describes the day he was born and the other people tried to kill him for... (full context)
Storytelling Theme Icon
Ceremony, Tradition and Adaptation Theme Icon
Betonie tells Tayo that the ceremony is not yet finished. Betonie draws a constellation in the... (full context)
Section 5
Native Americans in the Modern World Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
Tayo leaves Betonie and hitchhikes back towards New Laguna. He stops at a gas station to buy some... (full context)
Cultural Dominance, Purity, and Hybridity Theme Icon
Tayo dreams of old Betonie’s Navajo singing, until he is awakened by someone telling him to leave. Tayo thinks it... (full context)
Native Americans in the Modern World Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
Cultural Dominance, Purity, and Hybridity Theme Icon
Betonie had explained that the scalp ceremony meant to put fallen warriors to rest is no... (full context)
Native Americans in the Modern World Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
Ceremony, Tradition and Adaptation Theme Icon
Cultural Dominance, Purity, and Hybridity Theme Icon
Tayo goes home to New Laguna and waits to see one of the things Betonie mentioned would finish the ceremony. In late September, Tayo finally sees the constellation that Betonie... (full context)
Section 6
The Interconnected World Theme Icon
Cultural Dominance, Purity, and Hybridity Theme Icon
...the wires that he cut and ride into the hills, forgetting about the cattle and Betonie’s crazy Indian superstition about a ceremony. Tayo thinks of the army doctors telling him that... (full context)
Section 7
Ceremony, Tradition and Adaptation Theme Icon
Cultural Dominance, Purity, and Hybridity Theme Icon
...Robert and Tayo get the cows back to their ranch, old Grandma comments that old Betonie did some good after all. Tayo agrees, but he dreams of the woman constantly. Auntie... (full context)
The Interconnected World Theme Icon
Ceremony, Tradition and Adaptation Theme Icon
...the destroyers who prevent living people from ever feeling anything again. Tayo says that old Betonie knew of a way to stop the destruction and Ts’eh says it depends on how... (full context)
Native Americans in the Modern World Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
...lava rock. He finds it hard to remember how he felt with Ts’eh, or with Betonie, believing in the old stories. Tayo sees Harley and Leroy’s footprints going up the hill... (full context)
Storytelling Theme Icon
Ceremony, Tradition and Adaptation Theme Icon
...boundaries. Tayo looks back to the glimmer of night sky outside the mine and sees Betonie’s constellation shining bright and protecting him. The novel turns to a story-poem about Arrowboy, who... (full context)