Ceremony

Josiah Character Analysis

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. While Josiah certainly respects the Native tradition, though, he does not insist on cultural purity. Josiah starts a relationship with the Mexican woman Night Swan and, with Night Swan’s help, buys a herd of hybrid cattle, further strengthening Josiah’s association with cultural boundary crossing. Josiah’s death while Tayo is away at war accounts for some of Tayo’s postwar guilt, as does the fact that Josiah’s cattle have gone missing (they are stolen by a white rancher, Floyd Lee). Tayo’s quest to find and reclaim the cattle is also a quest to reconnect to the history and legacy of hybrid strength that Josiah left behind.

Josiah Quotes in Ceremony

The Ceremony quotes below are all either spoken by Josiah or refer to Josiah. 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 1 Quotes

So Tayo stood there, stiff with nausea, while they fired at the soldiers, and he watched his uncle fall, and he knew it was Josiah; and even after Rocky started shaking him by the shoulders and telling him to stop crying, it was still Josiah lying there.

Related Characters: Tayo (speaker), Rocky, Josiah
Page Number: 7
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.

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Section 5 Quotes

It was a cure for that, and maybe for other things too. The spotted cattle wouldn't be lost any more, scattered through his dreams, driven by his hesitation to admit they had been stolen, that the land - all of it - had been stolen from them. The anticipation of what he might find was strung tight in his belly…

Related Characters: Tayo, Josiah
Related Symbols: Hybrid Spotted Cattle, Bellies (Stomachs)
Page Number: 178
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.

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 7 Quotes

…occasionally a calf bolted away bucking and leaping in a wide arc, returning finally to its mother when it tired of playing. Tayo's heart beat fast; he could see Josiah's vision emerging, he could see the story taking form in bone and muscle.

Related Characters: Tayo, Josiah
Related Symbols: Hybrid Spotted Cattle
Page Number: 210
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 dese

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.

From the jungles of his dreaming he recognized why the Japanese voices had merged with Laguna voices, with Josiah's voice and Rocky's voice; the lines of cultures and worlds were drawn in flat dark lines on fine light sand, converging in the middle of witchery's final ceremonial sand painting. From that time on, human beings were one clan again, united by the fate the destroyers planned for all of them, for all living things; united by a circle of death that devoured people in cities twelve thousand miles away, victims who had never known these mesas, who had never seen the delicate colors of the rocks which boiled up their slaughter.

Related Characters: Tayo, Rocky, Josiah
Related Symbols: The Atomic Bomb
Page Number: 228
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.

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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Josiah Character Timeline in Ceremony

The timeline below shows where the character Josiah appears in Ceremony. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Section 1
The Interconnected World Theme Icon
...by thinking of a deer, but he is distracted by a memory of seeing his Uncle Josiah among Japanese soldiers who have been executed. Tayo’s cousin Rocky tried to reason with... (full context)
The Interconnected World Theme Icon
Ceremony, Tradition and Adaptation Theme Icon
...about their morning. Tayo tries to make breakfast, but is distracted by memories of his Uncle Josiah living in this house. The ranch is experiencing another drought, and the land is... (full context)
The Interconnected World Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
...indeed transcend any barriers – if they knew the right stories. After Indian school and Uncle Josiah’s death in the Philippines, Tayo no longer believes in the power of the stories. (full context)
Native Americans in the Modern World Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
...burro’s reins. Tayo mounts the mule, feeling like a little kid again and remembering how Uncle Josiah taught him to ride a horse. (full context)
Section 2
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 Tayo. Tayo gets off his... (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 take care of all the ranch work. Tayo offers to help... (full context)
The Interconnected World Theme Icon
Native Americans in the Modern World Theme Icon
Ceremony, Tradition and Adaptation Theme Icon
Tayo remembers Uncle Josiah telling him about this particular stream, when they were rinsing off with ice cold... (full context)
Ceremony, Tradition and Adaptation Theme Icon
Cultural Dominance, Purity, and Hybridity Theme Icon
...Rocky is embarrassed to think of all the rituals he knows that old Grandma and Josiah will do with the deer’s head and carcass, but Tayo appreciates the ceremonies that honor... (full context)
Section 3
Native Americans in the Modern World Theme Icon
Cultural Dominance, Purity, and Hybridity Theme Icon
...with a new brother, but Rocky was angry when Tayo showed up at their door. Josiah and Old Grandma treat Rocky and Tayo equally, but Auntie gives Rocky preferential treatment whenever... (full context)
The Interconnected World Theme Icon
Cultural Dominance, Purity, and Hybridity Theme Icon
...his mother’s wild days and refuses to let Tayo keep a photo of his mother. Josiah finds Tayo crying over the lost photo, but Tayo is too ashamed to admit to... (full context)
The Interconnected World Theme Icon
Native Americans in the Modern World Theme Icon
Cultural Dominance, Purity, and Hybridity Theme Icon
...Tayo starts to have second thoughts, remembering that he is supposed to stay and help Josiah with the ranch after Rocky graduates. Auntie is angry at their enlistment, but tells Tayo... (full context)
Native Americans in the Modern World Theme Icon
Cultural Dominance, Purity, and Hybridity Theme Icon
A month before Tayo and Rocky graduate high school, Josiah makes a $500 deal with Ulibarri, a Mexican rancher, to buy cattle. Tayo helps Josiah... (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 Ulibarri and a Mexican woman who works with Ulibarri. Auntie... (full context)
Cultural Dominance, Purity, and Hybridity Theme Icon
Josiah and Tayo unload the cows at their pasture and the herd nervously clumps as far... (full context)
The Interconnected World Theme Icon
Cultural Dominance, Purity, and Hybridity Theme Icon
That June, Josiah decides to brand the cattle, adding a small mark to the large butterfly brand that... (full context)
Storytelling Theme Icon
Cultural Dominance, Purity, and Hybridity Theme Icon
Josiah goes to see the Mexican woman to thank her again for letting him know that... (full context)
The Interconnected World Theme Icon
Cultural Dominance, Purity, and Hybridity Theme Icon
The Mexican Woman, called Night Swan, tells Josiah all about her past as a dancer in cantinas across the Southwest. The first time... (full context)
The Interconnected World Theme Icon
Cultural Dominance, Purity, and Hybridity Theme Icon
...her often. The women of Cubero content themselves with gossiping about what the old Indian Josiah does the many times his truck is parked outside of Night Swan’s apartment. Auntie is... (full context)
Cultural Dominance, Purity, and Hybridity Theme Icon
The cattle take so much of Josiah’s time that he can no longer sneak away to see Night Swan. Josiah hires another... (full context)
Storytelling Theme Icon
Cultural Dominance, Purity, and Hybridity Theme Icon
That summer, Tayo and Josiah spend their days in the fields while Rocky ostensibly prepares for his football scholarship at... (full context)
Storytelling Theme Icon
Ceremony, Tradition and Adaptation Theme Icon
...dry day much like the drought they are currently having. As they left the graveyard, Josiah had given Tayo a candy cane and told him not to cry. Now, Tayo tries... (full context)
The Interconnected World Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
Ceremony, Tradition and Adaptation Theme Icon
...by the mountain Tse-pi’na. All the ranch hands gather to watch the rain start falling. Josiah gives Tayo a note to deliver to Night Swan, as he was going to see... (full context)
Section 4
Storytelling Theme Icon
Ceremony, Tradition and Adaptation Theme Icon
...buzz around the window. Tayo then walks back to Harley’s bar, thinking about the time Uncle Josiah had caught him killing flies in the house. Josiah reminded Tayo that the green... (full context)
Ceremony, Tradition and Adaptation Theme Icon
Cultural Dominance, Purity, and Hybridity Theme Icon
...Tayo sees some Santa Fe railroad calendars from 1939 and 1940 that he recognizes because Uncle Josiah used to bring calendars back from the Santa Fe depot. Betonie tells stories about... (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 Uncle Josiah died... (full context)
Section 6
The Interconnected World Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
Ceremony, Tradition and Adaptation Theme Icon
...only salt bush can grow. Tayo turns his horse towards North Top, a mountain where Josiah always told a story of a hunter who found a mountain lion cub who, so... (full context)
The Interconnected World Theme Icon
Cultural Dominance, Purity, and Hybridity Theme Icon
...out pliers to make a hole in the fence for the cattle to escape through. Josiah had given the pliers to Tayo years ago, saying that you never know when a... (full context)
Storytelling Theme Icon
Ceremony, Tradition and Adaptation Theme Icon
...Tayo rides, he gets angry at the horse for stopping to graze, before remembering how Josiah had always taught him and Rocky that anger and violence accomplishes nothing. (full context)
The Interconnected World Theme Icon
Cultural Dominance, Purity, and Hybridity Theme Icon
...ceremony. Tayo thinks of the army doctors telling him that everything was superstition, from seeing Josiah among the Japanese to stopping the rain with a curse. Tayo is paralyzed by these... (full context)
Section 7
The Interconnected World Theme Icon
Cultural Dominance, Purity, and Hybridity Theme Icon
...together as the calves play in between them. Tayo’s heart is full as he sees Josiah’s dream coming to life. (full context)
The Interconnected World Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
Ceremony, Tradition and Adaptation Theme Icon
...the plants for Ts’eh, plant them safely, and then return home to New Laguna with Josiah, Rocky, and old Grandma to welcome him back. Tayo runs through the cool forest, watching... (full context)