Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

As Leon manipulates Father Paul’s ministry to serve the Pueblos’ purpose, Silko alters the short story’s conventions to accommodate the process of cultural assertion and adaptation. The simplicity of her style seems a strange, unconventional way of storytelling. Silko does not describe her characters physically or psychologically, or develop much sense of individual personality. Characters say little to each other and almost nothing about themselves. Ken and Leon say nothing when they find Teofilo dead, in spite of the momentousness of the event. The first spoken words are not attributed to either man, but whoever says “Send us rain clouds, Grandfather” speaks for both. Among the Pueblo characters, there is only one short exchange, in which Louise tells Ken that she had been thinking about having the priest sprinkle holy water for her grandpa so he will not be thirsty. Moments later, Leon says he will see where he is. They do not consider the implications of asking for the priest’s participation in their burial ceremony, which has already concluded. The Indians’ interactions are determined not by negotiations of the individual, conflicting will or by self-expression, but by a ritual that is set in motion by the discovery of Teofilo and that is quietly under way at all times.

The story declines to represent the ritual, as if to avoid any anthropological or ethnographic interest. The mourning period and funeral ceremony are conducted outside...

(The entire section is 457 words.)


(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Aithal, S. K. “American Ethnic Fiction in the Universal Context.” American Studies International 21 (October, 1983): 61-66.

Antell, J. A. “Momaday, Welch, and Silko: Expressing the Feminine Principle Through Male Alienation.” American Indian Quarterly 12 (Summer, 1988): 213-220.

Chavkin, Allan, ed. Leslie Marmon Silko’s “Ceremony”: A Casebook. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

Danielson, Linda. “The Storytellers in Storyteller.” Studies in American Indian Literatures 5, no. 1 (1989): 21-31.

Dunsmore, Roger. “No Boundaries: On Silko’s Ceremony.” In Earth’s Mind: Essays in Native Literature. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1997.

Garcia, Reyes. “Senses of Place in Ceremony.” MELUS 10 (Winter, 1983): 37-48.

Hirsh, B. A. “The Telling Which Continues: Oral Tradition and the Written Word in Leslie Marmon Silko’s Storyteller.” American Indian Quarterly 12 (Winter, 1988): 1-26.

Jahner, Elaine. “Leslie Marmon Silko.” In Handbook of Native American Literature, edited by Andrew Wiget. New York: Garland, 1996.

Lincoln, Kenneth. “Grandmother Storyteller: Leslie Silko.” In Native American Renaissance. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985.

Nelson, Robert M. “Rewriting Ethnography: The Embedded Texts in Leslie Silko’s Ceremony.” In Telling the Stories: Essays on American Indian Literatures and Cultures. New York: Peter Lang, 2001.

Sax, Richard. “One World, Many Tribes: Crosscultural Influences in Silko’s Almanac of the Dead.” In Celebration of Indigenous Thought and Expression. Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.: Lake Superior State University Press, 1996.