Change In Ceremony, By Leslie Silko's Ceremony

953 Words4 Pages
Change is one of the tallest hurdles we all must face growing up. We all must watch our relatives die or grow old, our pets do the same, change school or employment, and take responsibility for our own lives one way or another. Change is what shapes our personalities, it molds us as we journey through life, for some people, change is what breaks us. Watching everything you once knew as your reality wither away into nothing but memory and photographs is tough, and the most difficult part is continuing on with your life. In the novel Ceremony, author Leslie Silko explores how change impacted the entirety of Native American people, and the continual battle to keep up with an evolving world while still holding onto their past. Through Silko’s…show more content…
Rocky deliberately avoided the old time ways … he called it superstition.”(Silko, 51) By showing us how Rocky deliberately avoids the ways of his people, the traditions of his own family, Silko highlights the push for Native Americans to essentially become white. Rocky represents an entire generation that is being told that they need to completely renounce their way of life in order to be accepted by modern society. Part of this acceptance was also promised through participating in World War Two, as shown through the army recruiter “Anyone can fight for America… even you boys. In a time of need anyone can fight for her.”(Silko, 64) Silko uses the recruiter as a voice for opinions in the US, enticing its alienated cultures with a kind of equality. As the audience, we clearly know it is a temporary change, and Silko highlights this by mentioning “In a time of need”, but Rocky, a person already trying to embrace change, sees this as a chance to become equal to the whites. He as well as many others are fooled by the whites into thinking that positive change is happening, ironically, this promise of a better life leads to his fate. In a jungle nowhere near home, participating in a war, having nothing to do with his people, Rocky dies as a white man. By ending Rocky’s life in this way, Silko allows…show more content…
Early on in the novel he is introduced as a fellow veteran and childhood friend of Tayo’s, much like Rocky. Unlike Rocky, however, Harley is no longer striving to leave the reservation and be accepted into the world of the whites, he is trying to relive being in the army, the feelings of equality, of being desirable. “Harley didn’t use to like beer at all… Something was different about him now, after the war. He drank a lot of beer now.” By giving a clear distinction between his prewar and postwar drinking habits, Silko emphasizes the change his character has undergone, the effect war has on these reservation veterans. They use beer as a way to avoid their problems, numb all the pain accumulated from the white man’s war. People such as Harley find themselves pursuing their past, hiding from even the present, such as when he and Leroy were able to obtain a junk pickup truck. They literally run from their issues, spending their time just drinking, sleeping, and driving a pickup they owe money for. Harley’s life ends in this very truck “The old GMC pickup was crushed around them like the shiny metal coffin the Veterans Office bought for each of them… It was not much different than if they had died at Wake Island or Iwo Jima” This similarity is highlighted by Silko as a way to remind us that, although veterans like Harley had survived the war, they never truly lived afterward, because they so heavily dwelled on their
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