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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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1. Native Voices   

1. Native Voices

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•  Using the Video
•  Authors
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•  Activities
- Overview Questions
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Activities: Author Activities

Leslie Marmon Silko - Author Questions

Back Back to Leslie Marmon Silko Activities
  1. Comprehension: As the novel begins, what are some of the reasons Tayo is so miserable?

  2. Comprehension: List as many "ceremonies" as you can from the novel. That is, if you think of Ceremony as a spiritual journey for Tayo, how many stages does it have? Who are his guides on the journey?

  3. Comprehension: What exactly do the different ceremonies give to Tayo? How has he changed by the end of the novel?

  4. Context: What is the role of Ts'eh in the novel? Can you compare her to other women characters in the novel? What about to Fleur and Pauline in the story by Louise Erdrich? Does it matter that the main character of Ceremony is a man? How would the novel be different if the main character were a woman?

  5. Context: Compare Silko's portrait of Native American veterans to Ortiz's presentation of the issues surrounding veterans in "8:50 AM Ft. Lyons VAH."

  6. Context: Do a close reading of Betonie's ceremony. How does Betonie's ceremony compare to the Navajo Nightway chant? What is the goal of each? What is the significance of innovations in the ceremony?

  7. Exploration: How are time and space represented in the novel? How does Silko suggest characteristics of a "ceremonial" time and space, as opposed to the everyday European American senses of time and space? Indeed, it is worth keeping these questions in mind when reading all of the texts in this unit.

  8. Exploration: In what sense is the novel a "ceremony" for the reader as well as for Tayo? How do you imagine Native American readers would respond differently to this book than would Americans of European heritage? What about readers of African or Asian heritages?

  9. Exploration: Write your own modern Yellow Woman story using the theme of abduction and the traditional elements one would expect to find in Yellow Woman stories.

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