In plot terms, the phrase exposition is used to refer to the initial presentation of the main characters of a text and the conflict that is the focus of the text. In this excellent novel, the exposition therefore introduces us to the central character, Tayo, a Native American, who is deeply scarred and psychologically wounded by the trauma of having fought in World War II and also his own childhood. The conflict of this novel is therefore an internal one as Tayo has to battle his inner demons and come to terms with his past whilst drawing upon Native American culture and ritual ceremonies to help him heal himself.
The exposition is shown to us through the chaotic and rather discordant set of images that the novel begins with as he experiences dreams in various languages and a bewildering array of different flashbacks to various traumatic scenes in his life. He also displays a variety of different symptoms of extreme trauma, such as depression.
This exposition of the plot of course sets the stage for the rising action that is to come as Tayo begins his long walk to wholeness once again.