Ceremony

Rocky Character Analysis

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 the white world. Rocky convinces Tayo to enlist in the military during World War II, but dies at war in the Philippines. The novel implies through his death that, for Native Americans, abandoning the old traditional ways entirely is a dead end that will lead ultimately to obliteration.

Rocky Quotes in Ceremony

The Ceremony quotes below are all either spoken by Rocky or refer to Rocky. 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 2 Quotes

They told him, "Nothing can stop you now except one thing: don't let the people at home hold you back.” Rocky understood what he had to do to win in the white outside world.

Related Characters: Rocky
Page Number: 47
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 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:

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

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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Rocky Character Timeline in Ceremony

The timeline below shows where the character Rocky appears in Ceremony. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Section 1
The Interconnected World Theme Icon
...memory of seeing his Uncle Josiah among Japanese soldiers who have been executed. Tayo’s cousin Rocky tried to reason with Tayo that Uncle Josiah couldn’t possibly be in the Philippines, but... (full context)
The Interconnected World Theme Icon
Native Americans in the Modern World Theme Icon
Ceremony, Tradition and Adaptation Theme Icon
Tayo remembers the jungle, where he could never escape rain. He blamed the rain for Rocky’s infected injuries, though he knows that Rocky was really hurt by a Japanese grenade. While... (full context)
The Interconnected World Theme Icon
Cultural Dominance, Purity, and Hybridity Theme Icon
...Tayo, thinking of the smiling face of the Japanese boy from the family and of Rocky’s smile, throws up into a trash can. (full context)
The Interconnected World Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
...bed watching the sunlight crawl across the walls. He thinks about the time he and Rocky climbed Bone Mesa, and how he used to believe that humans could touch the sky... (full context)
The Interconnected World Theme Icon
Native Americans in the Modern World Theme Icon
...Tayo has any beer. Tayo replies that he does not, remembering the first time he, Rocky, and Harley tried beer. Harley used to think beer tasted like poison, but now Harley... (full context)
The Interconnected World Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
...on course. The burro reminds Tayo of his grandmother. Old Grandma stubbornly holds on to Rocky’s memory, telling everyone how Rocky promised to buy her a kerosene stove with his army... (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 play football, so much so that Tayo... (full context)
Section 2
Cultural Dominance, Purity, and Hybridity Theme Icon
...a white man. Tayo knows that Auntie never loved him as much as she loved Rocky, her biological son. Auntie resents Tayo for surviving the war while Rocky did not, even... (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 Tayo. Tayo gets... (full context)
The Interconnected World Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
Cultural Dominance, Purity, and Hybridity Theme Icon
...the Laguna language. Ku’oosh describes a cave that Tayo remembers exploring as a child with Rocky. Ku’oosh then tells Tayo that the world is fragile, choosing a specific Laguna word for... (full context)
Native Americans in the Modern World Theme Icon
Cultural Dominance, Purity, and Hybridity Theme Icon
...other veterans will think that he is crying over what the Japanese soldiers did to Rocky. Yet Tayo cannot bring himself to hate the Japanese. (full context)
The Interconnected World Theme Icon
Ceremony, Tradition and Adaptation Theme Icon
Tayo flashes back to carrying Rocky on a blanket in the Philippine jungle. Two Japanese soldiers, one short, one tall, stop... (full context)
Cultural Dominance, Purity, and Hybridity Theme Icon
...dark and dingy, but Tayo doesn’t mind because he can focus on his memories of Rocky. (full context)
Native Americans in the Modern World Theme Icon
Ceremony, Tradition and Adaptation Theme Icon
Tayo thinks about a time when he and Rocky went deer hunting. After they fell a deer, Tayo had hesitantly stroked the deer’s head... (full context)
Native Americans in the Modern World Theme Icon
Ceremony, Tradition and Adaptation Theme Icon
Rocky is a straight A, star football and track player at the boarding school in Albuquerque.... (full context)
Ceremony, Tradition and Adaptation Theme Icon
Cultural Dominance, Purity, and Hybridity Theme Icon
Rocky finishes gutting the deer, then he and Tayo each take a pinch of cornmeal to... (full context)
Section 3
Native Americans in the Modern World Theme Icon
Rocky takes Tayo to an army recruitment meeting, where the recruiter seems disappointed to be talking... (full context)
Native Americans in the Modern World Theme Icon
Cultural Dominance, Purity, and Hybridity Theme Icon
...mother had told him that he would be happy living with a new brother, but Rocky was angry when Tayo showed up at their door. Josiah and Old Grandma treat Rocky... (full context)
Native Americans in the Modern World Theme Icon
Cultural Dominance, Purity, and Hybridity Theme Icon
When Rocky and Tayo started school, Rocky pulls away from everyone in the family. Tayo understands Auntie... (full context)
The Interconnected World Theme Icon
Native Americans in the Modern World Theme Icon
Cultural Dominance, Purity, and Hybridity Theme Icon
The army recruiter questions whether Rocky and Tayo are really brothers, due to Tayo’s green eyes, but Rocky insists. Rocky and... (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... (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 the university. Tayo knows that Rocky is really... (full context)
Section 4
Cultural Dominance, Purity, and Hybridity Theme Icon
...Tayo walks to Cubero and sits on Night Swan’s stoop. Tayo remembers sitting here with Rocky when Lalo’s bar was still profitable. Tayo is happy sitting under the cottonwood trees that... (full context)
The Interconnected World Theme Icon
Ceremony, Tradition and Adaptation Theme Icon
...who ask them for money. Tayo thinks back to the day he came here with Rocky, throwing coins to the Navajo, Zuni, Laguna, and Hopi people who left their reservations for... (full context)
The Interconnected World Theme Icon
Native Americans in the Modern World Theme Icon
Cultural Dominance, Purity, and Hybridity Theme Icon
...Josiah died because he had no one to help him care for his cattle with Rocky and Tayo gone at war. Betonie asks about Rocky but Tayo can only cry. Betonie... (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 Gallup spread out in... (full context)
Section 6
Storytelling Theme Icon
Ceremony, Tradition and Adaptation Theme Icon
...the horse for stopping to graze, before remembering how Josiah had always taught him and Rocky that anger and violence accomplishes nothing. (full context)
Section 7
Native Americans in the Modern World Theme Icon
Ceremony, Tradition and Adaptation Theme Icon
...name is too long to pronounce. Tayo says he understands about nicknames, thinking about how Rocky’s Christian name was Augustine. (full context)
The Interconnected World Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
Ceremony, Tradition and Adaptation Theme Icon
...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 storm... (full context)