The Man to Send Rainclouds

by Leslie Marmon Silko

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Student Question

Why does the family prepare their grandfather for burial in "The Man to Send Rain Clouds"?

Expert Answers

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In “The Man to Send Rain Clouds,” Teofilio’s family initially prepares him for burial following the traditions of their pueblo. This includes tying a feather in his hair, painting his face, wrapping his body (in this case in a red blanket), and scattering corn meal and pollen on the wind. By following the traditions of the pueblo, they honor their deceased relative and also to honor their culture. They also believe that by following the traditions for his burial, they will enable Teofilio to be able to send rain clouds, and thus life giving water, after he is properly buried.

The conflict in the story comes from their decision to ask the priest to assist them by sprinkling holy water on Teofilio’s body before he is buried. This is not part of the tradition of the pueblo, but it makes sense to the family as it helps their goal of Teofilio being able to send rain clouds in the future. So for the family, the request is a practical addition to the burial traditions of their culture.

The priest is more troubled by this, however, as he believes that he should have performed a full catholic burial since Teofilio had been a member of his parish. He does as the family asks, but it should be clear to the reader that he is troubled by the way the family easily mixes their traditions with the parts of the catholic ceremony that seem to make sense with respect to those traditions.

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