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Fence Essay

1404 words - 6 pages

In our society, fences can be both a necessity and an obstacle, however, in Leslie Marmon Silko's Ceremony, most fences represent evil. From the barbed-wire fences on a reservation to the high electric fences surrounding the nuclear testing facility, they symbolize many evils. Silko uses many fences to represent the different evils created by witchery: white people, evils that hinder Tayo on his spiritual journey, and the evils facing the Native American people.In Ceremony, Tayo comes across many different types of fences that symbolize several different things. The first type of fence is a barbed-wire fence that the Indians use to keep their cattle from wandering away and to separate their reservation land from that of their neighbors. The first example is when Tayo sees that some of Joisah's cattle had broken through a fence. "There were tufts of hair snagged in the barbs of wire, and in some places a strand of wire and been pulled loose from a fence pole and was hanging slack like old clothesline (Ceremony, Silko, 1977, 79)." In most cases, cattle would cross a fence only because they are pressured in some way. "But they still ran if the men on horseback tried to get close; and if they were pushed into a corner where fences intersected, they lunged through the wire without hesitation (Pg. 79-80)." This type of fence is a relatively harmless kind as it represents a lesser evil while other fences can represent an even greater evil.In the story, white people built large fences to keep out unwanted Indians and Mexicans. These fences symbolize two things: the separation between whites and non-whites, and a lie that whites are to blame for all evils. "The people knew what the fence was for: a thousand dollars a mile to keep Indians and Mexicans out; a thousand dollars a mile to lock the mountain in steel wire, to make the land his"¦ (Pg. 188)." White people are depicted as ones that strengthen the separation between themselves and non-whites. Also, Whites are depicted as people that believe they can own all the land by using their technology.Another fence that Tayo encounters is the tall fence surrounding the uranium mines. "They had enough of what they needed, and the mine was closed, but the barbed-wire fences and the guards remained until August 1945. By then they had other sources of uranium, and it was not top secret anymore"¦ (Pg. 244)." The uranium is used in the creation of the nuclear bomb at a testing site near Tayo's reservation. This site is undoubtedly the largest evil in the book because it was the witchery's "final ceremonial sand painting (Pg. 246)." To emphasize this greatest evil, the tallest and toughest fence surrounds it. "The top secret laboratories where the bomb had been created were deep in the Jamez Mountains"¦only one hundred miles Northeast of him now, still surrounded by high electric fences (Pg. 246)." At the end of the story, the location of the site is revealed. Since there is no more secrecy...

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