The Man to Send Rain Clouds

by Leslie Marmon Silko

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Who is Teofilo in "The Man to Send Rain Clouds"?

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As the other educator pointed out, the answer is that Teofilo is an old Pueblo Indian who dies before the story begins.

At the beginning of the story, Leon (Teofilo's grandson) and Ken (Leon's brother-in-law) find Teofilo dead under a cottonwood tree. Upon finding Teofilo's body, the men are sad. However, they do what needs to be done. First, they gather the sheep (Teofilo was supposed to watch them) and pen them. Then, Leon and Ken perform traditional Native American last rites on Teofilo. Leon ties a feather to Teofilo's long white hair. Then, he dabs streaks of blue, white, yellow, and green paint on his grandfather's face. Meanwhile, Ken throws pinches of pollen and cornmeal into the wind above Teofilo's head.

Satisfied, the two men take Teofilo's body home with them. They share a meal with Louise (Leon's sister) and Teresa (Ken's wife) and make plans to bury the old man before dark. Before the burial, Leon asks Father Paul to sprinkle holy water on his grandfather. The priest is initially reluctant. He is deeply uneasy that Teofilo's family has neglected the Catholic last rites and funeral Mass ceremonies. However, Father Paul soon changes his mind. He does attend Teofilo's funeral and sprinkles holy water on Leon's grandfather.

The priest's capitulation highlights the merging of two religious traditions at Teofilo's funeral.

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The correct answer to this question is (C) an old Pueblo Indian who has died before the story opens.

The story opens on Ken and Leon, Teofilo’s grandsons, discovering the old man’s body under a cottonwood tree near the sheep camp, where he had been tending the flock.  “He had been dead for a day or more,” we learn. This points to (C) as the correct answer. He is not (A), a Roman Catholic missionary, though there is a priest in the story. He is not (B) Louise’s son, because in Part Three of the story Louise says she has been thinking “about the priest sprinkling holy water for Grandpa.” Louise is actually Teofilo’s granddaughter. And we can discard (D) the leader of the Pueblo community, because there is no evidence anywhere in the story to support this claim. Indeed, one could imagine that if Teofilo had been the leader of the community, he would not have been tending sheep, and his funeral would attract much more attention than it does.

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