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post 30

The last post is the Johnny Cash song “The Ballad of Ira Hayes.  Ira Hayes is one of the soldiers who is seen raising the flag at Iwo Jima.  This image is the most famous images of war.  This soldier, like Tayo was celebrated and respected when he was in uniform, but after the war they were haunted by their demons.  Tayo and Ira both suffered from alcoholism.  We see how in this country that we are so easily able to disregard Native Americans. They have been mistreated for centuries and even when they are apart of something so historic and unforgettable, they themselves are forgotten, by society.  Tayo was able to get help for his demons, but Ira Hyes wasn’t so lucky. 

“‘We fought their war for them.’ ‘Yeah, that’s right.’ ‘But they’ve got everything.  And we don’t got shit, do we?’…They all shouted ‘Hell no’ loudly and they drank the beer faster and Emo raised the bottle, not bothering to pour the whiskey into the little glass anymore.  ‘They took our land, they took everything!”(Silko 51)

We see how Tayo and his friends think the government and the country has treated them after the war.  They were put back on the reservations.  They weren’t given any thanks for their service and they handled this harsh return to reality by using alcohol.  America forgot about them.



post 29

I don’t feel we did wrong in taking this great country away from them. There were great numbers of people who needed new land, and the Indians were selfishly trying to keep it for themselves.” John Wayne

This quote represents the way many Americans feel about Native Americans.  John Wayne stared in many films where Native Americans were depicted as evil savages that killed white men, and raped their wives and daughters. The most famous of these movies being The Searchers in 1956 This is the type of people that Tayo and Rocky dealt with in Ceremony.  The medicine man tells Tayo about the time he went to the World’s Fair in St. Louis, Missouri “the year they had Geronimo there on display.  The white people were scared to death of him.  Some of them even wanted him in leg irons” (Silko 113).  This is another example of the image most ‘white’ Americans have of Native Americans.  Most people believe that they are drunks, “Running Buffalo: Swell party, where’s the whisky? “(McClintock 1963), or that they are savages.    Tayo is part white, so he carries part of this prejudice with him.  He doesn’t tell the girls at the bar he is Indian, but lies and says he is Italian.    He is ashamed of the stigmas that surround the Native Americans.  He wants to be accepted by society, so he is willing to dismiss his Native heritage in order to gain acceptance. 

John Wayne also played roles where the characters fought for the Indians.  We see this in the movie McClintock, made in 1963. In this movie, Wayne’s character is asked to speak to the government in behalf of the Indians.  His character believes that the Indians are not savages and deserve certain rights like any man does. “Agard, if you knew anything about Indians, you’d know that they’re doing their level best to put up with our so-called ‘benevolent patronage’ in spite of the nincompoops that’ve been put in charge of it! ”
  Yet, some of the Native Americans in this movie are seen as drunks and serve as a comic relief in the movie.

The lost boys in Peter Pan always play Indians.  They are boys that will never grown up, who will always remain children, or simple, like how many view Native Americans.  White prejudice is seen in many works of literature, and Silko tries to shift the negative views of Native Americans.  She wants us to sympathize with Tayo and see how the restraints of society have caused his and his fellow Native Americans to live out the preconceived notions that society has placed on them.  Society assumes these certain ideas about Native Americans, and therefore only allows them live out these ideas. 

Part of The Searchers:


post 28

“Pay attention now, Reader: wait for me because I’m going to need you more than ever, don’t hide from me, don’t go away: you have to be there when I need you to lend me a hand so that I can recover everything I shall lose” (Fuentes 503).  Throughout the novel Fuentes has addressed his readers and given them an active role in reading his novel.  He often tells the readers that he needs them because they are his audience.  If they abandon him, he will be forgotten.  This holds true for all authors.  Their words only matter if we care enough to read them and finish them and if we remember them.  They need us to finish their story, or else it just sits in the universe.  What value do their words have it they aren’t read. 

Fuentes has his character, Christopher, following Platonic epistemology; the idea that knowledge is innate.  Christopher knows all that is going on in his world while he is inside his mother and the novel ends with him being born and having to re-learn or recall all of these things we have read about.  This is a clever device that Fuentes uses, and he introduces us to this idea because while he is being conceived, Christopher’s mother is holding her favorite book, a book of Plato “crawling towards my mother with the volume of Plato draped over her face”(4).  The whole premise of the novel is based on Plato’s theory.   Fuentes weaves together Plato’s idea of recollection and the importance audience has to characters and literature.  It is the readers that give characters life, they do not exist if not for us.  They do not serve a function or have a story if it is not read by an audience.  Fuentes is aware of this and uses this idea in his book and gives his character, Christopher, this knowledge.e HeH

post 27

A rebellious Mother was Our Lady la Adelita, the darling Clementine, the fairy godmother of the revolution (corseted, cinched, swaying, full of secrets only she knew, they told her, a ruby encrusted in her belly button that no one would ever see, and between her legs a white bulge and curled foam, not that slack, gawky mop she showed up with, even there they gave her a permanent and a marcelling, her vulva sewn up with golden thread and embellished with two dozen diamonds sharpened like tine shark teeth, like hussars guarding the entrance closed to all; they told her that her temptation would be to offer hatred as a hope; that she should think that she was not real, that she’d been invented, screwed together with precious stones, a Frankednic monster with forty-caret cathodes(Fuentes 33)

WHATTTTT????  This is Fuentes trying to show that the government is taking a folk tale, la Malinche  and la llorona, and completely sexualizing it for the public’s own perversity.  They take this young secretary, send away her boyfriend, and keep her in a house for over a year so that she becomes completely dependent on her captors.  They then take her and completely transform her to this creature that goes beyond normal.  I cannot tell if Fuentes is trying to convince us that they actually did this to the young woman or if this language is symbolizing something else.  Either way, this passage completely strips away the woman’s identity.  She is always referred to as ‘she’ in this passage, even before her transformation.  They she is sexualized to appeal to society.  She is given surgery to make her breasts bigger “her breasts shook more; injected, inflated sillyconized breasts surgically manipulated to achieve the consistence, the rhythm, and the balance necessary to bounce as they bounced now even though they were squeezed and raised and revealed as they were now under the cascade of diamond chokers”(33).  She is told to shake and sway her hips for all of Mexico to see and idolize.  They take an everyday girl and turn her into a national symbol.  The symbol of La Malinche is often compared with the Holy Mother.  I think it is very daring for Fuentes to take such an symbol and create characters that would sexualize this woman in such a way.  Yes, La Malinche is known as “the fucked one” because she had a relationship with Cortez, but I still think he takes this idea to a disturbing extreme.

post 26

“There is nothing more subversive than instantly turning desire into reality, and that’s why they try to surround us unborn types, and later, when we’re children, they limit us, surround us with schools and jails and churches and programmed vacations and calendar holidays and economic whorehouses erected between a child and the object of his desire”( Fuentes 231).  In this passage, we see Fuentes questioning the functions that society puts upon people and puts upon children.  From a very early age, children are taught how society wants them to act in school.   They are taught to listen and to follow directions from whoever is in charge.  They are learned to repeat the answers that there teacher wants them to hear. They are given similar lessons in churches.  They are told to sit and listen to what the priest is teaching them.  They are not supposed to question what is being told to them.  They are encouraged to blindly accept these lessons.  This is what the Mexican government wants its citizens to do also.  It wants them to follow the agenda that they have.  Fuentes also brings up in this novel that what the Mexican government wants and expects from its citizens often is what the American government wants and expects of the Mexican people.  Fuentes is trying to show the relationship between the corruptions of both governments.  The Mexican government isn’t the only government that tries to control its population.  Most countries can look at their education systems and their religious systems and one would see that these institutions are working with an agenda.  They want their followers to act accordingly to follow whatever plan the institution has for them.  They want their students/members to trust what they are being told and not question their reasons.   Colleges today are run differently.  They encourage students to question and explore new ideas, but back when Christopher is developing and growing in his mother’s womb, colleges and students did not have the same freedoms that they have today.  Many colleges were expected to spit out good citizens who would work jobs for the government to ensure that the owners of these companies made a lot of money off the lands’ resources and people.  Leaders have no problem being corrupt if their pockets are full.  This is seen in many governments but Fuentes focuses mainly on the Mexican government.

post 25


It is interesting to see how two female writers, Silko and Kingsolver, portray women.  Silko gives us the character of Laura, who abandons her child with her family.  She is portrayed as a loose woman; she leaves with a car full of men, and whiskey on her breath (61).  Tayo is told by his Aunt the time his mother hadn’t come home; “I knew she had been out all night because I never heard her come in…she waked under that big cottonwood tree and I could see her clearly; she had no clothes on.  Nothing. She was completely naked except for her high heel shoes” (64).  We see that his female character is portrayed as a bad mother, someone who sleeps with a lot of guys.  Someone who is shameful.  It gives this character more meaning because Laura is created by a female author.  Someone who should have empathy for female characters.  One who would understand the struggles that females have faced for centuries.  Laura is also an Native American female.  She would have faced even more discrimination in her time.  She would have met even more prejudices and had more restrictions put upon her life.  

            Kingsolver also does the same thing with Salome.  Salome is racist and is also painted as a bad woman.  She is someone who has left Harrison’s father back in America and is sleeping and living with two other men for financial gain.  She sends her son off to boarding school and like Laura is an absentee mother. 

            One often thinks that female characters are presented negatively because of the writer.  Most time this idea is because the author is male, and cannot understand or think like a woman. Critics believe that male writers do not give their female characters true identities or voices because they are incapable of doing so.  In this case, Laura and Salome are given little voice and the writers are female.  The characters are portrayed negatively and not given a chance to be heard, or given the opportunity for empathy by the readers.

post 24

“‘They’re not brothers,’ she’d say, ‘that’s Laura’s boy.  You know the one.’  She has a way of saying it, a tone of voice which bitterly told the story, and the disgrace she and the family had suffered.  The things Laura had done weren’t easily forgotten by the people, but she could maintain a distance between Rocky, who was her pride, and this other, unwanted child.  If nobody else ever knew about this distance, she and Tayo did” (Silko 60)

In this passage we see how Tayo is an outsider even in the eyes of his family.  His mother slept with a white man, which makes Tayo a half-breed. She abandoned him with her family and her family, especially her sister, carries a lot of shame and resentment towards Laura and Tayo.  Tayo was always treated differently by his Aunt.  She “wanted him close enough to feel excluded, to be aware of the distance between them” (62); Tayo’s aunt was punishing Tayo for his mother’s actions.  For his own birth, Tayo was punished for; things that he had no control over. 

            The reader can see the sense of Irony in Silko’s story.  The others are punishing one of their own for being something other.  Tayo is half white, but is not accepted in the white community and half native American, but not accepted by them.  He is something ever worse.  He is a half mix, which is something that we have seen in other works this semester.  He is something that Salome would frown upon.   He is of mixed blood.  His mother had an affair with a white man, and Tayo was born a bastard.  Rocky, is Native American, and sees himself as an equal to Tayo, but the older relatives do not.  Rocky and Tayo are seen to be the same when looked upon by “white, other” people, but within their own community they are as different as black and white.  Tayo never feels that he is accepted anywhere.  This is why he is such a tragic character, a character with no real home.  He cannot fine acceptance anywhere.

post 23

“‘Anyone can fight for America he began, giving special emphasis to “America”, even you boys.  In a time of need, anyone can fight for her’…Now I know you boys love America as much as we do, but this is your big chance to show it….the recruiter was packing the leaflets into a cardboard box; he didn’t look up. ‘Sure, sure,’ he said, ‘you enlist now and you’ll be eligible for everything-pilot training-everything’” (Silko 60). 

            In this passage we yet again see the difference in attitude towards Native Americans.  We see that they are treated differently by others, in this case, the Army Recruiter.  “Even you boys” clearly shows that Tayo and Rocky belong to the “other” group, while the recruiter belongs to the mass population of “white” Americans.  “as much as we do” also shows the reader that this recruiter, who is trying to get the boys to do something for him, see himself as different and better than Tayo and Rocky.  He is stating that they love America as much as he does, but do they?  Tayo and Rocky do not get any respect and are forced to live on a poor reservation because of the American laws.  America does not give them the same opportunities as it give others.  The recruiter cannot even be bothered to give the boys a hard sell.  Yes he wants them to join the army, but he cannot even be bothered to look up and stop packing his leaflets to talk to the boys.  The recruiter is also lying to the boys by saying that they will be eligible for everything.  He is just telling Rocky what he wants to hear so that he can continue with his business.  We see the prejudice of the recruiter in this passage.  We see that the recruiter and Americans think Rocky and Tayo are second rate citizens.  They do not give them the same respect that they give “white” people.  We as an American nation, consider Native Americans different from ourselves. Even though they are Americans and have ties to this land longer than the “white” man, they are not looked as “Americans”.  The book Ceremony makes this distinction numerous times.  It is a tale of the “other”.  What happens when the outcast is an outcast among outcasts, and what happens when for a brief time; the outcast is treated like an equal.

post 22

Tayo is ashamed of his heritage.  He tries to hide the fact that he is Native American while he is in the army.  When Tayo goes to a bar and tells the girls that he is an Italian soldier, and he gives the name of a soldier in his unit.  “I sat close to the blonde I used Mattuci’s name that night-this Wop in our unit…’well I scored all right.’ ‘Which one, which one?’ ‘Not one,’ I said ‘Both of them!’ ‘Well, I’ll be goddammed!’ he said ‘all in the same bed?’ ‘Yes, sir, this In’di’n was grabbin’ white pussy all night!’”(Silko 54)  Although Tayo is treated different because he is a Marine, he is still consciousness about his Native American heritage.  He feels that he has to lie and say he is Italian to the women at the bar.  Tayo has been outcast because of his heritage his whole life, so it is understandable that he is so uncomfortable with himself that he prefers to pass as someone one else.  He doesn’t mind when Mattuci is getting a reputation.  In this case, Mattuci’s reputation is something the soldiers would be proud of, but Tayo doesn’t need the recognition.  He is just happy to be included.  Tayo is happy to be getting “positive” female attention because he was abandoned by his mother and treated coldly by his aunt.    

We see again the attention Tayo gets once he joins the army.  White women never looked at me until I put on that uniform, and then by God I was a U.S. Marine and they came crowding around.  All during the war they’d say to me ‘Hey, soldier, you sure are handsome.  All that black thick hair’…they never asked me if I was Indian; sold me as much beer as I cold drink.  I was a big spender then. Had my military pay(37). 

It is strange to think that both these voices belong to Tayo.  In the second, we see how happy he is to be hanging in the bars and getting attention from the ladies.  He even states that his Indian heritage is never brought up.  But, in the first passage, Tayo lies about his last name, and masks his heritage from the two women in the bar.  Tayo knows that he has all the moves, he knows to “smile at both of them…but I gave my ‘special look’ to the blonde”(53), and he then buys the ladies another drink, yet he is still insecure about his Indian background so much that he lies and says that he is Italian.  This is another countless example of Tayo not owning his identity and being ashamed of his heritages, both white and Native American. The focus on this story is Tayo trying to come to terms with his heritage and accept who he is under any environment or circumstance.

Post 21

“For a long time he had been white smoke.  He did not realize that until he left the hospital, because white smoke had no consciousness of itself.  It faded into the white world of their bed sheets and walls; it was sucked away by the words of doctors who tried to talk to the invisible scattered smoke.”  (Ceremony 13) 

In this passage, Tayo is being described as being “White smoke”. When Tayo suffers after the war, the doctors believe that it is due to the war.  In actuality, Tayo’s white smoke has followed him for his whole life.  Tayo is white smoke because he is part white, and it is this whiteness that has makes him an outcast all his life.  It is this white cloud that poisoned his mother, in the world of “bed sheets” where Tayo was created.   The white smoke represents Tayo not knowing where he belonged in this world and not knowing who he is.  Tayo has no consciousness of himself. 

This idea of Tayo not having a place in the world is seen again after the war. While in uniform, Tayo is treated like an equal to the white soldiers.  He sleeps with girls and is allowed to go to bars and he gets drinks brought for him.  But after the war, he is again seen as an Indian, and is not given the same attention and acceptance from his white “brothers”.  The army doctors are trying to treat Tayo for something that he has carried all his life.  They do not see that Tayo’s symptoms are not just from the war but from living his life.  Tayo was fighting before he went to Vietnam and he will be fighting again once he leaves.  Tayo has to find a way to lose the white smoke that has engulfed his existence his whole life, in order to begin to live his life and fine meaning in it.  This is something that Western doctors cannot prescribe for Tayo.  It may not be something that the healers can do for Tayo either.  Tayo has to get rid of his white smoke on his own.  He has to fight his own demons and search for a place of belonging and acceptance from others and himself.

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