5 March 2015
A Critical Analysis of The Man to Send Rain Clouds
When first reading the short story The Man to Send Rain Clouds by Leslie Silko, one’s first impression would be that the story is about a man, who belongs to an Indian tribe, passing away and then having a burial ceremony in his honor. In reality, the story has so much more meaning to it. When looking closer, the story is about a battle between man and society, but more specifically a man versus the preconceptions of religion. The man is Leon and the religions are the beliefs of his own Native American Tribe, the Pueblo tribe, and the Catholic religion.
First of all, the man who passed away, Teofilo, was found underneath a cottonwood tree.
In many Native American tribes, a cottonwood tree symbolizes the sun and the afterlife. Him being found dead underneath the tree shows that there is an afterlife and that is where he is going or where he is believed to be going. The tree symbolizing that there is an afterlife may be an
Indian symbol, but many other religions believe that there is an afterlife as well. This is later mentioned in the story when it is brought up that after the burial rituals the deceased will bring them rainclouds. As Leon is walking away from the burial ceremony, “he felt good because it was finished, and he was happy about the sprinkling of the holy water; now the old man could send them big thunderclouds for sure,” (Silko).
When the man is first found dead by Leon and Ken, they preform a Native American ritual and paint colors on the man’s face and tie a father in his hair. In doing this they are using their Indian rituals as a way to bless the body. Every color of the four colors means something
!2 different to them and their tribe. They also believe that doing this will help make the deceased more recognizable in the afterlife. The afterlife in which the deceased blesses those still living with rain. You do not see the true conflict and mix of religion until later on.
The Catholic religion is intermixed when Leon shows up to the priest’s house and tells him that Teofilo is in fact dead when he had originally lied about it and lead the priest to believe he was alive. Immediately, the Father gets mad that Leon didn't tell him sooner because he would have brought the Last Rites. The Father says, “‘For a Christian burial it was necessary’” (Sisko)