Gender Issues and Ceremony

Introduction: In reviewing the notes I prepared, from the novel Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko, and the classroom discussion, I have discovered another aspect of the work that I would like to explore. This response focuses on the psychological aspect of Tayos character and the motivation for his behavior. In the novel, Silko explores the gender roles of four women and the significance to the development and actualization of Tayos character. These four women are Tayos birth mother, Auntie, old Grandma, and Tseh (a Montano). Because Tayo is of mixed ancestry, half white and half Native American, Tayo discovers he has a natural cultural flaw imposed upon him at birth, which would linger and expand into adulthood. At four years old, Tayos birth mother left him with his Aunt and Grandmother so they could raise him as their own due to her alcohol addiction and vicarious life-style. He didnt remember much: only that she (mother) had come after dark and wrapped him in a mans coat it smelled like a man and that there were men in the car with them . . . he clung to her because when she left him, he knew she would be gone for a long time . . . there were tears all over his face and his nose was running (Silko 65-66). Nonetheless, Tayos sense of emptiness and abandonment began. Auntie raised Tayo and was the mother figure he lacked. However, Auntie reluctantly accepted this responsibility because she could not bear to raise a child that brought the reservation shame by his mothers mistake. On the other hand, Auntie willingly accepted Tayo to conceal the shame of her younger sister (Ibid 29). This contradiction, made Auntie hesitant toward Tayo as he was not her real son and was also a half-breed. For Tayo, this only added to his feeling of displacement and the feeling of being invisible (Ibid 14). Auntie would give her affection and attention to her natural son R…

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