As you get started on this essay about how Leslie Marmon Silko's Ceremony builds tension through settling, characterization, and language and conveys meaning through that tension, you must first review the plot, characters, and setting of the book. You should then develop a thesis statement for your essay that reflects your main idea about the topic, perhaps something along the lines of how Silko uses these story elements to reveal the tension of self-discovery and the fight between good and evil.
In your essay, you will want to focus in on each of the story elements. The setting of the desert, for instance, reflects the dryness of Tayo's spirit as he searches for the meaning of his life. The story's characterization provides a number of contrasts that enhance the story's tensions and the need to discover meaning and goodness. Think, for instance, about the contrast between Tayo and Betonie or the contrast between Tayo and the Night Swan.
Language, too, contributes to the story's tension, especially the struggle between good and evil. Consider Betonie's stories of witches and the creation of the white man. These highly symbolic tales are meant to teach Tayo and readers the origins of the tensions in human life and in themselves.