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.)