American Literature Essay Sample: Psychoanalysis of Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko

Published: 2022-11-04
American Literature Essay Sample: Psychoanalysis of Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Character analysis American literature
Pages: 3
Wordcount: 584 words
5 min read

Tayo as a character in Ceremony builds a story that can be interpreted as a struggle to achieve a reinstatement of his psychological instability after a life experience that can be described as a leap into the real life many non-native Americans face. As the story starts, Tayo is one of the participants in an execution where a Japanese Soldier is fired at by firing squad. The first emotional breakdown is witnessed in that scene where, despite the fact that Tayo knew that the Japanese soldier was an enemy, he could not help but notice him as his beloved uncle known as Josiah. According to Silko, Even after the comforting words by the fellow soldiers to help him feel better about the situation, he still feels "...Josiah, eyes shrinking back into the skull and all their shining black light glazed over by death" (8). The vision that Tayo has about his Uncle makes him realize that nationality, identity, and ethnicity among other systems considered to have created the world's order only act as a disguise to reality, which is something uncontrollable. Despite the fat that the vision of Josiah as a Japanese soldier was not a reality, it creates a big confusion in his mind, especially when he comes home from war and realize that his uncle has actually died. He feels guilty as he was not around to assist with the duties within the ranch. The two events, his vision and the actual death of his uncle, make him remain confused as he thinks the two could have some unexplained connection.

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When Tayo comes back from the war, he takes some time in veteran's health facility. His spirit has been totally shattered by the thought that he might have lost his identity. According to Silko, Tayo "had been white smoke... it was sucked away by the words of doctors who tried to talk to the invisible scattered smoke" (14). And according to Tayo, "white smoke had no consciousness of itself" (Silko 14). Tayo fails to connect the fictional order, hence perceives himself as the imaginary smoke that does not have control in the form it takes. His engagement with the doctor seems not to make the confusion to reduce as his words disintegrate Tayo further. Having thought of the world order and his confusion, he decides to seek help from the medicine man. As Silko puts it, the medicine man Tayo goes to is called Betonie. The first view Tayo captures when he goes to visit the medicine man is "reddish willow twigs tied in neat bundles...bouquets of dried sage" (119, 120). According to Tayo, the magical ingredients made for traditional medicine purposes is a combination of both modern and traditional components that disturbs him. For instance, an explanation is that "bundles of newspapers... piles of telephone books... layers of old calendars, the sequences of years confused and lost..." (Silko 120). Having seen his fear, the traditional medicine man says:

"...don't try to see everything all at once... We've been gathering these things for a long time - hundreds of years. She was doing it before I was born, and he was working before she came. And on and on back down in time" (Silko 120). According to Betonie's words, one can conclude that there is too much in the room for Tayo to handle at one go. The presence of the newspaper expresses the symbol of the world as they contain words that describe events that happen in the world.

Work Cited

Silko, Leslie Marmon. Ceremony.

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American Literature Essay Sample: Psychoanalysis of Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko. (2022, Nov 04). Retrieved from

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