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.)

Historical Context

(Short Stories for Students)

The Myth of Kochininako, Yellow Woman
In The Sacred Hoop: Recovering the Feminine in American Indian Traditions, Paula...

(The entire section is 1186 words.)

Literary Style

(Short Stories for Students)

‘‘Yellow Woman’’ is set along a river, on mountain trails, in Silva's mountain dwelling, and in the narrator's...

(The entire section is 663 words.)

Literary Techniques

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

"Yellow Woman" is set along a river, on mountain trails, in Silva's mountain dwelling, and in the narrator's Laguna pueblo. The enclosed...

(The entire section is 372 words.)

Ideas for Group Discussions

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

In "Yellow Woman," Silko recreates and revises the oral traditions and ceremonial practices of the Laguna Pueblo people.

1. Write...

(The entire section is 523 words.)

Social Concerns

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Leslie Marmon Silko's story "Yellow Woman" was first published in 1974 in Kenneth Rosen's anthology, The Man to Send Rain Clouds:...

(The entire section is 774 words.)

Compare and Contrast

(Short Stories for Students)

1970: The publication of Dee Brown's Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee arouses widespread general interest in the history of Native...

(The entire section is 138 words.)

Literary Precedents

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Although Silko's "Yellow Woman" does not assume that readers will be familiar with the original myth, it helps to be familiar with the...

(The entire section is 248 words.)

Related Titles

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Silko's use of Native American myths and celebration of female sexuality have led some critics to compare her work, including "Yellow Woman,"...

(The entire section is 185 words.)

What Do I Read Next?

(Short Stories for Students)

Ceremony (1977), a novel by Silko. After fighting in World War II, a young Native American man, Tayo, finds health and new meaning by...

(The entire section is 410 words.)


(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Aithal, S. K. “American Ethnic Fiction in the Universal Context.” American Studies International 21 (October, 1983): 61-66.

Antell, J. A. “Momaday, Welch, and Silko: Expressing the Feminine Principle Through Male Alienation.” American Indian Quarterly 12 (Summer, 1988): 213-220.

Chavkin, Allan, ed. Leslie Marmon Silko’s “Ceremony”: A Casebook. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

Danielson, Linda. “The Storytellers in Storyteller.” Studies in American Indian Literatures 5, no. 1 (1989): 21-31.

Dunsmore, Roger....

(The entire section is 210 words.)

Bibliography and Further Reading

(Short Stories for Students)

Adams, Carol J. Introduction to Ecofeminism and the Sacred, Continuum, 1993.

Allen, Paula Gunn....

(The entire section is 588 words.)