The Man to Send Rain Clouds

by Leslie Marmon Silko

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What ceremonial elements are used at Teofilo's funeral?

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The short story "The Man to Send Rain Clouds" by Leslie Marmon Silko tells of an old Native American named Teofilo who sits down and dies under a cottonwood tree while he is tending his sheep. Two men, Leon and Ken, find him and transport him back to their house. After preparing the body, the men and their relatives and friends bury Teofilo. The funeral ceremony begins as soon as the men find Teofilo and wrap him in a red blanket. It involves a blend of Native American and Catholic elements.

The term "ceremonial elements" can refer to the distinct parts of a ceremony, or it can refer to the physical substances used in a religious ceremony. For instance, the bread and wine used in the Christian Eucharist are referred to as the elements of the Eucharist. Since this question does not specify whether it refers to the parts or the physical props of the funeral procedure, we'll have a look at both.

When Leon and Ken find the old man under the tree, before they wrap him in the blanket they tie a gray feather in his hair with a piece of string and paint a streak of white across his forehead, blue streaks along his cheeks, a yellow streak under his nose, and a green streak across his chin. They then throw pinches of corn meal and pollen into the air and say, "Send us rain clouds, Grandfather."

At home, they lay the old man on his bed and dress him in a new brown flannel shirt and new Levis. A woman named Louis sprinkles more corn meal around him. Old men come from the village and perform a funeral ceremony using candles and medicine bags.

Louise then suggests that they should ask the priest to sprinkle holy water on Teofilo so that he won't be thirsty. At first the priest objects because the old man has had a Native American funeral instead of a Christian one. He finally relents and accompanies Leon to the gravesite, where he empties a container of holy water over Teofilo. After this, the old man is buried.

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