The Role Of Belonging In Leslie Marmon Silko's Ceremony

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Returning back home from war can be a very hard adjustment to make. Spending an extended amount of time in a harsh, abrasive environment where one moment of carelessness can cost you your life can make it extremely difficult to return to civilization peacefully and calmly. In Leslie Marmon Silko’s novel Ceremony, the protagonist, Tayo, has returned home from World War II, and is living in the Laguna Pueblo reservation. It is soon discovered that he is not well, and that he must undergo a ceremony to become healthy again, which is a spiritually all-encompassing journey through his soul. However, Tayo cannot complete his ceremony without learning to love and understand himself. Tayo is abandoned at an early age by his mother, who was almost completely unable to care for him after succumbing to severe alcoholism. Being left with his Auntie, Uncle Josiah, and cousin, Rocky, Tayo struggles to find a sense of belonging within his family. This struggle is only perpetuated by his Auntie’s constant reminders that he is different, being half-Indian and half-white. This ties directly into when Tayo is undergoing his ceremony later in his life, as he has to fully come to accept his heritage,…show more content…
He has a complete loss of faith and stops caring about the world in general. Haunted by the deaths of the two people he loved the most, Rocky and Josiah, Tayo elects to recover in a veteran’s hospital. Tayo “had been white smoke. He did not realize that until he left the hospital, because white smoke had no consciousness of itself” (Silko 14). In the hospital, Tayo had lost the sentience to realize that he is not well, thus leading him to believe that he is well enough to return home, which is what the expression “white smoke” symbolizes. Tayo is unable to communicate or reason with himself. It is soon after that Tayo and his family come to the realization that Tayo must undergo a ceremony to become

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