Ceremony

Ceremony Section 8 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The novel returns to the Corn Mother poem-story, as Hummingbird and Fly bring the tobacco to old Buzzard. Old Buzzard purifies the town in all directions and frees the people from the Ck’o’yo magic. The storm clouds return and the people have food once again. Corn Mother warns the people not to fall for the Ck’o’yo magic again, as fixing things is not easy.
The Corn Mother story ends as Tayo’s story ends. Both stories affect and influence each other, as Tayo’s story happens chronologically later in time, but appears earlier in the novel. Tayo is living proof that fixing things again will not be easy, but hopefully his ceremony will act as a warning to future generations not to let this happen once again.
Themes
The Interconnected World Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
Ceremony, Tradition and Adaptation Theme Icon
Tayo sits in a kiva with Ku’oosh and the other old men of the tribe. Tayo tells his story in full, with the men asking numerous questions. Tayo answers them all, especially the ones about which direction Ts’eh came from and what time of day Tayo met Ts’eh. Tayo sits facing the south wall of the kiva and notices how the late autumn sun comes through the windows. A story-poem explains that Reed Woman (A’moo’ooh) stays in the north with the hunter, who is actually her brother, in the winter, then comes south during the summer and blesses the people.
Tayo brings his wisdom back to the tribe, reconnected with his Laguna Pueblo heritage as he adds another story to the Pueblo legacy. Tayo faces south, the direction that his cattle always want to go, and the direction that traditionally signals home or ending to the Pueblo people. These directions are also important for Ts’eh, who follows the traditional route that the Reed Woman uses to bring the seasons to the Pueblo people. Just as the Reed Woman took the rain away in the story-poem in the beginning of the novel, the novel implies that Ts’eh either is the Reed Woman or acts as the Reed Woman to bring the rain back.
Themes
Storytelling Theme Icon
Ceremony, Tradition and Adaptation Theme Icon
Cultural Dominance, Purity, and Hybridity Theme Icon
At noon, the men eat a hearty lunch and Ku’oosh builds up the fire in the kiva. Ku’oosh tells Tayo to stay in the kiva all night fasting. A story-poem describes how the man whom coyote cursed had the coyote skin cut off him and the evil untangled from his spirit and cut to pieces.
Tayo retraces another story to fully cleanse himself of the false identity that white culture put on him. Just as coyote-man sheds his coyote skin, Tayo sheds the evil influence of white culture while sitting in the kiva, a traditional round sacred structure used for Pueblo religious rituals.
Themes
The Interconnected World Theme Icon
Cultural Dominance, Purity, and Hybridity Theme Icon
Harley and Leroy were found together off the road from Paguate hill, their bodies dismembered enough to warrant sealed coffins. The flags that mark them veterans completely cover the coffins.
Harley and Leroy die without coming back into harmony with nature or their Pueblo identities. As such, the flags that mark them as veterans outshine the actual people that these men were. In death, Harley and Leroy lose everything that tied them to their Pueblo heritage.
Themes
Native Americans in the Modern World Theme Icon
Cultural Dominance, Purity, and Hybridity Theme Icon
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Auntie avoids Tayo now that Tayo has visited Ku’oosh, saying that the other women from the church come to her daily wondering how she has managed to stay a strong Christian in the face of such troubles. Auntie simply says, “It has never been easy.”
Instead of resenting Tayo for his white blood, Auntie now avoids Tayo because he is too Native American for her Christian friends. Yet for Tayo, this is an important step as he is no longer considered a half-breed, but fully accepted by the Native community. Note that Auntie, who is out of touch with Pueblo culture in favor of Christian righteousness, quotes the Corn Mother story – she seems not to realize how she cannot escape the importance of Native knowledge in her own life.
Themes
The Interconnected World Theme Icon
Cultural Dominance, Purity, and Hybridity Theme Icon
One day, Auntie comes home from church bursting with the news that Pinkie has been killed. Emo shot Pinkie in the back of the head as Pinkie was washing dishes at the sheep camp. The FBI ruled it an accident, but Emo is still in enough trouble that he skips town to move to California. Old Grandma, half listening to the entire story, remarks that she feels as if she has heard this story before with different names for the characters.
Emo continues to be a tool of the witchery, causing pain, destruction, and death wherever he goes – but rather than give him power the continued destruction he causes leads to his ouster from the tribe, while Tayo’s stories have been accepted by the tribe’s elders. Old Grandma’s observation that stories seem to repeat themselves again implies how new generations come and live out the same plots in the never ending fight between good and evil in human souls, while also tying each of those generations together in a fabric that both remains the same and always changes.
Themes
The Interconnected World Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
The novel starts a poem-story about the end of witchery, describing how witchery always ends up curling back on itself. The witchery is dead for now. The novel ends with a final poem that reads, “Sunrise, accept this offering, Sunrise.”
Though the witchery will return, as evil and good always shift in their balance, Tayo’s actions have held it back for now, and his story becomes part of the history and legacy along with the Corn Woman story and so many others. That the novel ends just as it began, with “Sunrise,” suggests a number of things. First, it is another example of the novel’s structure mirroring its themes, of the cyclic nature of stories, their constant change and sameness. It also suggests that a new story is beginning, one made possible by Tayo’s own story. And by leaving that story untold, by leaving the reader only with “Sunrise,” the novel implies that this new story could be the readers story – that influenced by the lessons and power of Tayo’s ceremony, it is time for the reader to create a new ceremony. Silko seems to suggest that Ceremony is not just a novel, but that it is itself a ceremony, and now it is has been released into the world, and given to the reader, to perform its healing.
Themes
Storytelling Theme Icon
Ceremony, Tradition and Adaptation Theme Icon