The Man to Send Rainclouds Themes
by Leslie Marmon Silko

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The Man to Send Rainclouds Themes

(Short Stories for Students)

In her short story ‘‘The Man to Send Rain Clouds,’’ Silko perceives creativity as a source of strength for Native Americans, a theme that recurs in her later works. In particular, Leon's strength lies in his ability to creatively combine Indian rituals with Catholic rituals. He does not strictly follow the Indian ways, but adds a new element by asking the Catholic priest to sprinkle holy water on Teofilo's grave. Throughout the story, Silko emphasizes that the strength of Pueblo traditions lies in their ability to incorporate alien elements into their own way of life.

Custom and Tradition
Silko's story is concerned with the strength of the customs and traditions of the Native Americans, and how to resolve a conflict between Native-American customs and Christian customs. Leon asks the Catholic priest to participate in the community's Indian rites. Father Paul refuses at first, but later decides to sprinkle holy water on the grave, honoring the Native-American belief that the spirit must have plenty of water in its journey to the other world. The story reveals how clashes over differences in customs and tradition can be avoided through a combination of customs.

Related to the theme of custom and tradition in ‘‘The Man to Send Rain Clouds’’ is the theme of death, which is presented from a Native-American perspective. Death is not an end, but part of a cycle wherein the spirit departs to return in time with rainstorms. As he finishes painting the dead face of Teofilo, Leon is not sad; instead he smiles and offers the conventional Pueblo prayer asking the dead man to send rain clouds.

Individual versus Community
Another theme in ‘‘The Man to Send Rain Clouds’’ is the struggle of the individual versus community. As the priest of a Native-American parish, Father Paul must oversee the Catholics in his region. Yet after the old man dies, Leon does not inform the priest, though the rest of his parishioners have been informed. Father Paul is the last person to join his parishioners in the graveyard, and as he empties a jar of holy water on Teofilo's grave he, in a small way, joins the Native-American community.

(The entire section is 544 words.)