Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

At first glance, “Yellow Woman” is a common version of the old story of a married woman seeking to escape from her boring and unfulfilling family life by having an affair with an exciting, unconventional male. The woman here seems to be rather aimless, listless, and irresponsible: She does not really “decide” to go with Silva or to leave him, but rather finds herself doing certain things. She does not appear to have a very strong attachment to her husband or child, nor does she believe that they will mourn her loss very much. When she does return to her pueblo, she holds on to the belief that the “strange” man will come back to get her one day.

Closer scrutiny reveals “Yellow Woman” to be a rich and melancholy story written by a Native American author who is well acquainted with tribal folklore and quite sensitive to the pathos of the American Indian’s life in the modern world. The woman longs not so much for a lover as for a richness, a oneness of life that she has heard about in the stories of her grandfather. She lives in the banal poverty of a modern pueblo with paved roads, screen doors, and Jell-O. She seeks to make contact with the vital world of Coyote (a traditional Native American figure of the creator-trickster), ka’tsina spirits, blue mountains, and cactus flowers—a world in which human, animal, spirit, and nature are one, a dynamic world where reality itself is multidimensional and mystical.


(The entire section is 523 words.)


(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Like many other contemporary Native American stories, "Yellow Woman" is concerned with liminality, a state of being between two worlds or two...

(The entire section is 977 words.)