Storyteller Masterpieces of Women's Literature Storyteller Analysis
by Leslie Marmon Silko

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Masterpieces of Women's Literature Storyteller Analysis

In addition to generating Silko’s sense of identity, the theme of the storyteller and storytelling gives unity to the diverse materials collected in Storyteller. Growing up as a person of mixed blood, Silko was not fully accepted in Laguna culture or in white culture. As a storyteller who both preserves the oral tradition and functions in the tradition of literate authorship, however, she can establish a bridge between the two cultures and find an identity worthy of respect in both. Moreover, one of the major themes in this book, as it is in her novel Ceremony, is that the traditional stories are not merely relics of the past but are relevant to the very different world of today. As Silko says in the selection entitled “Storytelling,” it is important for people to understand, through stories, how things were in the past, not only to have an accurate knowledge of history but also because history repeats itself and “it is the same/ even now.” This theme is developed further in the short story “Yellow Woman,” which is often anthologized and is perhaps Silko’s best-known work. Yellow Woman, known to the Lagunas as Kochininako, is the subject of many stories in the oral tradition. In Silko’s story, a young Laguna wife has a sexual encounter with a stranger. She remembers and identifies with the story of Yellow Woman’s encounter with a spirit from the north with whom she went away and lived. The story emphasizes Silko’s cyclical view of history and her belief in the importance of stories in providing a sense of identity.

The exploitation of American Indians by whites is another major theme in Storyteller, not only in the short story “Storyteller” but also in three other stories. In “Lullaby ,” the white rancher for whom the Navajo Chato has worked loyally for many years heartlessly evicts him and his old wife from their shack when Chato gets too old to work. In “Tony’s Story,” a sadistic state policeman harasses two young pueblo men. In “A Geronimo Story,” Laguna scouts who are forced to help the white men track down Apaches are not allowed to sleep in the house with the white soldiers and must sleep outside with the horses. In addition, many of the biographical and autobiographical sections deal with the bigotry that Silko and her family encountered in their dealings...

(The entire section is 586 words.)