EN 101 10-06-2014
Essay # 2 Auntie and Josiah.
In the novel of Leslie Marmon Silko “Ceremony” we meet a young man Tayo, a World War II veteran, coming back to his reservation after being imprisoned in Japan. Suffering from PTSD, being confused about his mixed race and belonging to his community, Tayo experiences deep internal conflicts. To understand Tayo, it is helpful to contrast his relationship with Auntie and Josiah. These two characters significantly influence Tayo’s life and his world view. Both, Auntie and Josiah are becoming the closest people for Tayo as they are raising him. Although Auntie and Josiah belong to the same family and culture, they have different senses of support, perspectives, and ways of raising Tayo, which help us to understand his internal conflicts.
Auntie is the oldest daughter in the family. Thus, she feels responsible for her younger siblings, for their actions and decisions. She raises Tayo out of necessity, not love. “Many years ago she had taken him to conceal the shame of her younger sister” (29, Leslie Marmon Silko). Tayo always reminds Auntie of Little Sister’s shame. Consequently, her actions towards him are quite negative. Moreover, she feels responsible for Little Sister’s mistakes and it forces her to accept Tayo into the family. Nevertheless, taking care of him means for her a different things, she is simply trying to be a respectful woman for her community and family. As a result, Auntie doesn’t make Tayo feel at home. On the contrary, she causes his isolation and feeling of loneliness. “But Auntie stared at him the way she always had, reaching inside him with her eyes, calling up the past as if it were his future too, as if things would always be the same for him” (29). Auntie makes Tayo feel excluded and also confused about his future. She didn’t let her son, Rocky, or anybody else call Tayo “brother”, reminding Tayo about his mixed race. Even after Tayo comes back from the war, suffering from PTSD, she is not willing to provide the moral support and care he needs the most. Auntie enhances Tayo’s suffering by being cold hearted while providing the limited basic needs. Looking after Tayo during his PTSD, brings her a new opportunity to prove her authority to the community, without helping Tayo to feel or get better. “But advantages wear out; she needed a new struggle, another opportunity to show those who might gossip that she had still another unfortunate burden which proved that, above all else, she was a Christian woman” (30). Instead of trying to understand Tayo and his life situation, she is worried more about her status in the community as a religious women, blindly following certain rules.
Unlike Auntie, Josiah stood up as Tayo’s spiritual teacher. He comforts Tayo morally, providing feeling of belonging to the same family and culture, despite Tayo’s origins. Josiah represents a positive character in this novel, who is the mental mentor for Tayo during his life, even after Josiah’s death. Unlike Auntie , Josiah cares about Tayo as his own child. Tayo gets deeply sad and confused after his uncle’s death, and it shows strong spiritual connection between them. “He wished Josiah were there, not forever like he had been wishing, but just long enough so Tayo could tell him how he’d been feeling lately, how he’d almost been convinced he was brittle red clay , slipping away with the wind, a little more each day”( 27).
Being depressed after coming back from the war, Tayo suffers from not having Josiah next to him, making his recovery last longer. There is nobody left for Tayo to explain his feeling of loss and misery. Lack of mental support makes Tayo feel worse every day. Josiah was the source of Tayo’s well being. He was “the mother” and best friend at the same time. Josiah’s death brings Tayo sadness and feeling of loneliness,…