Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 531
The unifying theme of the short stories and poems of Storyteller might be considered Silko’s life itself. Punctuated with photographs of the Laguna reservation and surrounding landscape, often taken by her father, Storyteller seeks to assert the importance and vitality of an oral culture. Many of the tales included were told to Silko by her relatives; although not always understanding their import at the time, Silko came to realize that such stories include practical or moral instruction. Other tales and poems are imaginative reconstructions of ancient myths or are Silko’s responses to her immediate environment. Throughout, the connective thread is Silko’s experience of life as an American Indian woman.
Silko assumes many guises as a storyteller and becomes many narrators, each with an individual voice. With equal versatility, she is the Inuk girl who tricks her parents’ killer to his death, the mythic Yellow Woman riding into the mountains with her lover, or herself as a child, tormenting her uncle’s goat. As she demonstrates so forcefully in Ceremony, she capably creates male characters, catching the rougher resonances of their voices as well. Two striking stories narrated by male characters are “Tony’s Story” and “Coyote Holds a Full House in His Hand.”
In the first, Silko focuses on the killing of a New Mexico state patrol officer, seen from the point of view of one of the participants. Brutalized by the patrol officer, who seeks out Indians in order to beat them, Antonio Sousea kills the officer in front of his friend Leon and then sets fire to the body in the squad car. Leon, who has responded to an indiscriminate beating from the officer by talking about his civil rights and appealing to the Pueblo meeting, is appalled. Tony, however, has perceived the officer to be something worse than a violent racist; he believes the man to be a force of evil, the focal point of a bad spell that perpetuates the drought conditions on the reservation.
Tony believes that to exorcise the...
(The entire section contains 531 words.)
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