Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)


Tayo, the protagonist, a half-breed whose mother was a disgrace to the community and whose father was a white man who worked on the highway. After he is orphaned, he is taken in by his aunt, uncles, and grandmother and is reared with his cousin Rocky. Tayo is reminded constantly of his separate status, of his not really belonging. Surviving the war in the Pacific, Tayo returns to the United States, first to a veterans’ hospital and finally to the reservation to embark on his journey of healing.


Rocky, Tayo’s all-American cousin. A high school football star, he has plans for college. His life will demonstrate to white people that Indians are not unambitious failures. First, though, he will prove himself—and his patriotism—by serving in the war. Alongside Tayo, he fights the Japanese in the Philippines, only to die in the jungle rain.


Auntie, a strict Catholic who has capitulated to the dominant Western culture. She passes those same values to her son, Rocky. Her sister, an alcoholic who slept with white men and preferred the bars of Gallup to the reservation, left Tayo to remind her of the family’s shame. Auntie never allows Tayo to forget his mother’s disgrace and seems even more unforgiving when Tayo returns from the war and her son does not.


Josiah, Auntie’s brother and Tayo’s uncle, an important presence in...

(The entire section is 530 words.)

Ceremony Characters

Ceremony tells the story of Tayo, a mixed blood Native American from the Laguna Pueblo reservation who is severely traumatized by his...

(The entire section is 1703 words.)

Ceremony Character Analysis

Ceremony Auntie

As a Christian, Auntie represents a break with the traditional ways and beliefs. In addition, she is a martyr in her own mind. As she says in...

(The entire section is 202 words.)

Ceremony Betonie

Chosen from birth to learn the traditions of medicine, Betonie is revered for his success at curing people. He stays in his Hogan—built...

(The entire section is 206 words.)

Ceremony Emo

Emo, "always with a GI haircut," represents the witchery of the story world. He represents evil. He rejects the ways of the past, favoring...

(The entire section is 257 words.)

Ceremony Harley

Harley is a clownish character who represents the bacchanal spirits. He prescribes alcohol for all occasions. When Rocky, Tayo, and Harley...

(The entire section is 196 words.)

Ceremony Tayo

The main character in the novel is Tayo, a Laguna Pueblo and a veteran of World War II. At the opening, he feels like white smoke, like a...

(The entire section is 502 words.)

Ceremony Other Characters

Bear Boy
See Shush.

Grandma lets things happen around her until she must intervene. For...

(The entire section is 946 words.)