Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Perhaps the most striking technical dimension of this skillfully written story is Leslie Marmon Silko’s masterful use of a first-person narrator. In fact, the real interest in this story resides not so much in the events of plot as in the character of the speaker. The narrator is absolutely credible as a young Pueblo woman: straightforward, unassuming, and unsophisticated. She is also a natural storyteller with an acute sensitivity to the beauty of the physical world and a deep longing for communion with humanity, nature, and spirit, for a fullness and a resonance of life she fears is lost “back in time immemorial.” The simplicity and directness of her prose and the purity of her descriptions are evident from the first line: “My thigh clung to his with dampness, and I watched the sun rising up through the tamaracks and willows.” There is a calmness and a wistfulness in this woman’s voice that is quite affecting. She brings both the harsh loveliness of the land and the mystery and strength of the man to life seemingly without effort; they are rendered vividly, not because of ornamention or rhetorical skill but because she responds to them in an elemental, deeply felt, manner.

Two other aspects of Silko’s technique merit comment: her use of color and the motif of storytelling. Colors play a subdued but important role here. The author draws on traditional meanings and on naturalistic detail to weave a subtle pattern of associations. The woman...

(The entire section is 575 words.)