The Man to Send Rain Clouds

by Leslie Marmon Silko

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Did Teofilo have a "good" funeral in "The Man to Send Rainclouds"?

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At the beginning of the story, Leon and Ken discover Teofilo lying dead underneath a cottonwood tree. They follow through with the traditional Pueblo practice of tying a feather to the old man's beard and painting his face with various colors. They then throw pinches of corn meal and pollen into the wind as they ask their deceased grandfather for rain clouds. Teofilo's family then welcomes their neighbors and friends to take part in Teofilo's funeral, and the community shows their respect by attending his funeral to perform traditional Pueblo burial rituals. Louise's request that Father Paul sprinkle Teofilo with holy water is answered as the priest pours the water on Teofilo's body. Overall, Teofilo had what would be considered a "good" funeral because he was given a traditional Pueblo burial, which is more culturally appropriate and meaningful to his family than a foreign Christian funeral.

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In "The Man to Send Rainclouds," Teofilo, the local shepherd who peacefully died while tending his sheep, had a good funeral in terms of the religion of Pueblo tradition, which suggests the conflict of the story. Teofilo's friends are secretive about his funeral preparations because they wish to forestall any interference from Father Paul who would wish to give Teofilo a white culture Catholic burial.

Teofilo had his face painted and was wrapped up in a red blanket according to Pueblo tradition. He has a good Pueblo funeral, but that's not all. Louise, Leon's wife, convinces the others that it would add to Teofilo's comfort and to the success of his future after-death role as a sender of rainclouds to have Father Paul sprinkle Catholic holy water on Teofilo at the burial: if Teofilo's thirst is quenched, he will do a better job with the rainclouds.

Things occur at the funeral when a confused Catholic Father Paul sprinkles holy water on Teofilo and on the grave site. The Pueblo people interpret these occurrences as signs of a successful offering to Teofilo's soul after death. Father Paul is only confused and worried, but nonetheless has added significantly to Teofilo's funeral, which makes it a doubly good funeral.

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