Yellow Woman

by

Leslie Marmon Silko

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The Mountains Symbol Analysis

The Mountains Symbol Icon

Distinct from the river, the mountains are a mysterious and seemingly mythical place that represent an escape. The ka’tsina is a mountain spirit known for seducing native women, luring them away from their communities, and bringing them into the mountains. The association of the mountains with these seductive spirits makes the mountains seem like a mysterious and intriguing site of liberation. When the narrator stands in the mountains with Silva, she explains, “I was standing in the sky with nothing around me but the wind that came down from the blue mountain peak behind me.” In this statement, the narrator conveys her feelings of freedom. Moreover, the narrator’s thoughts about her family and home life reveal that she feels bored and doesn’t share strong intimate bonds with her family members. The mountain provides her an escape from the familiar and the mundane.

In addition to being physically elevated, the narrator also climbs further into the dreamscape of the mythology as she ascends the mountain. While she’s there, her senses deceive her, leaving her unable to distinguish between reality and mythology, and she wanders within this liminal space. Silva, as the mountain spirit, also offers her an escape from the ordinary. He’s mysterious and offers her the possibility of being someone other than an ordinary woman from the pueblo; with Silva in the mountain, she is the Yellow Woman of legend. In this way, too, the mountain is a site of spiritual elevation, helping characters rise above the ordinary to access a different dimension of experience.

The Mountains Quotes in Yellow Woman

The Yellow Woman quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Mountains. 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:
Identity Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin edition of Yellow Woman published in 2012.
Part Two Quotes

From here I can see the world.

Related Characters: Yellow Woman/Narrator (speaker), Silva/Ka’tsina (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Mountains
Page Number: 55
Explanation and Analysis:
Part Four Quotes

I saw the leaves and I wanted to go back to him—to kiss him and to touch him—but the mountains were too far away now. And I told myself, because I believe it, he will come back sometime and be waiting again by the river.

Related Characters: Yellow Woman/Narrator (speaker), Silva/Ka’tsina
Related Symbols: The River, The Mountains
Page Number: 60
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Mountains Symbol Timeline in Yellow Woman

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Mountains appears in Yellow Woman. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part One
Identity Theme Icon
Native American Culture, Identity, and Experience Theme Icon
...the change of scenery as they climb higher. Silva doesn’t speak but sings a soft mountain song as they go. The narrator’s thoughts wander to her family and she wonders what... (full context)
Part Two
Reality and Myth Theme Icon
Native American Culture, Identity, and Experience Theme Icon
...feeling like she was standing in the sky. She sees the outlines of the surrounding mountains and wonders who else has walked through a landscape like this. From there, she cannot... (full context)
Reality and Myth Theme Icon
Time, Storytelling, Prophecy Theme Icon
Native American Culture, Identity, and Experience Theme Icon
...to return home but decides to eat something before starting her journey back down the mountain. She sits eating dried apricots and drifts off as she thinks about how, sitting there... (full context)
Reality and Myth Theme Icon
Native American Culture, Identity, and Experience Theme Icon
...knows her deceased grandfather would have understood that a ka’tsina had taken her into the mountain. She thinks about how her family would get along if she never returned, deciding that... (full context)
Part Three
Reality and Myth Theme Icon
As Silva and the narrator make their way down the mountain, she looks off into the distance and thinks she sees a town, but Silva informs... (full context)
Identity Theme Icon
Reality and Myth Theme Icon
Time, Storytelling, Prophecy Theme Icon
Native American Culture, Identity, and Experience Theme Icon
Silva turns to the narrator and instructs her to ride back up the mountain. The white rancher orders Silva to ride to Marquez, saying that he plans to call... (full context)
Native American Culture, Identity, and Experience Theme Icon
Once she reaches a forked trail in the mountain ridge, the narrator pauses to let her horse rest. She recalls hearing four gunshots but... (full context)