Conflict is inevitable. War is not.

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Posted on: November 10th, 2013 by BWNWAdmin No Comments

Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko

The book  group read the fiction book Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko in October. Here is Dorothy Sampson’s review of the book. You are invited to join in on this discussion.

Along with an opposable thumb, a defining characteristic of a human is story.  We listen to stories about ourselves, about what we have done, and our place in the world, and we tell stories to ourselves.  For the young Native American, Tayo, in Leslie Marmon Silko’s novel “Ceremony”, the stories nearly took away his will to live.  Because he was a “half-breed” and the circumstances of parentage, he was already burdened with the story of his unworthiness when  he went off to fight in the Pacific during World War II.  The guilt of being unable to save his cousin, who, when they signed up together, called Tayo his brother for the first time, added to his story of unworthiness and shame.  The recurring stories and images of the horrors of the jungle fighting and then captivity under the Japanese nearly destroyed him.

But there is another story at work in the novel.  It is of healing and finally redemption when Tayo immerses himself in the traditions and stories of the Laguna Peublo, his people, and designs his own ceremony to affirm the value of all life and his own in particular.

Silko’s novel is a story to remind us of the fragility and vulnerability of being human and how war can destroy not only life but also the essence of what makes us human.

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