What are the pueblo traditions in "The Man to Send Rain Clouds"?

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In Silko’s “The Man to Send Rain Clouds ,” the majority of the funerary rites performed for the deceased, Teofilio, appear to be traditional in the pueblo. However, it is also possible that some of the rites are a mixture of traditional practices and European-American practices. Further, at the...

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In Silko’s “The Man to Send Rain Clouds,” the majority of the funerary rites performed for the deceased, Teofilio, appear to be traditional in the pueblo. However, it is also possible that some of the rites are a mixture of traditional practices and European-American practices. Further, at the end of the story we see an aspect of a Catholic rite being modified to fit the Puebloan worldview.

In preparing the old man for burial, his family ties a feather in his hair and paints his face. They also dress him in new clothes and in his new moccasins that he had made for the ceremonial dances. Finally, they wrap him in a red blanket. The reader is not provided an account of the funeral itself, but the narrator mentions that candles and medicine bags were involved. Also, the reader is told that Louise, one of Teofilio’s family members, had sprinkled cornmeal around him, some of which remained on the blanket in which he was wrapped.

The reader can likely safely conclude that the feather, the face painting, the cornmeal, and the use of medicine bags during the funeral are traditional rites. The inclusion of the new moccasins that were made for the ceremonial dances and the wrapping of the body may be traditional as well. However, the dressing of the old man in new clothes may be traditional or it may be an adoption of the similar practice from the surrounding European-American culture. The use of candles in the funeral may also be an adoption from European-American practices, perhaps even from the Catholic Church.

The aspect of the burial that the reader can safely conclude is not traditional to the pueblo is the sprinkling of holy water on the body before burial. This part of the Catholic rite is requested by the family so that Teofilio would have water and might be more likely to send rain clouds. The priest knows that the family is requesting the holy water for reasons other than its function in the Catholic rite, but he agrees to their request. In this way, the family is incorporating an aspect of an outside practice into their worldview, with the hope the water will help the old man bring them rain clouds.

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