The Man to Send Rainclouds

by Leslie Marmon Silko

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In "The Man to Send Rain Clouds", what do Leon and Father Paul have in common?

Hilario, the grandfather in The Man to Send Rain Clouds, is a Chuska Mountaineer who is visited by his grandson Leon, his daughter-in-law Louise and wife Rosita. He is dying and wishes to pass his rain making ceremony on to Leon before he dies. Father Paul was also called in to hear Hilario's last words.

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Hello! In ' The Man To Send Rain Clouds,' Leon and his brother-in-law Ken find the dead body of Leon's grandfather under a big cottonwood tree. Leon is satisfied that he has fulfilled his tribal duties after going through all the ritualistic steps of honoring the dead, according to Native...

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American tradition. Before he wraps his grandfather in a red blanket, he ties a small gray feather in the old man's long white hair. He then draws a white streak across his grandfather's forehead and a blue streak along the old man's cheekbones. He pauses to throw cornmeal and pollen into the wind. After he paints a yellow streak under his grandfather's nose and a streak of green across the chin, he is satisfied. It is only then that he asks his grandfather to bring back rain for all of them for the nourishment of the earth.

At first, Leon does not tell the priest that his grandfather is dead, but his wife, Louise, gently suggests that they should cover all the bases in order to ensure grandfather's happiness in the afterlife. Leon dutifully goes to Father Paul to ask for some holy water to sprinkle on his grandfather's grave. However, the priest balks: he insists that the Last Rites should have been given and a funeral Mass held, at the very least. He thinks that all the ritualistic paint and ceremony is positively pagan and definitely a heresy to the Catholic faith. Nevertheless, he goes to the funeral to fulfill his duty. He knows that it would be useless to argue with the grieving family.

Leon and Father Paul have some things in common: both sincerely believe in the rightness of their religious traditions and rituals. One believes in the Pueblo death rituals, and the other believes in the sanctification rituals of the Catholic Church. Yet both carry themselves with dignity: they do not wish to quarrel and will meet the other half-way. Leon sees no problem in giving in to Louise's wish for the holy water for his grandfather, and Father Paul realizes that he cannot press home his advantage on behalf of the Church if he holds on stubbornly to his theological convictions.

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