The Value of Narrative in Ceremony
The story is the most powerful and most compelling form of human expression in Leslie Marmon Silko's novel Ceremony. Stories reside within every part of every thing; they are essentially organic. Stories are embedded with the potential to express the sublime strength of humanity as well as the dark heart and hunger for self destruction. The process of creating and interpreting stories is an ancient, ongoing, arduous, entangled, but ultimately rewarding experience. As Tayo begins to unravel his own troubled story and is led and is led toward this discovery, the reader is also encouraged on a more expansive level to undertake a similar interpretive journey. Each story is inextricably bound to a virtually endless narrative chain. While reaching an epiphanal moment, a moment of complete clarity, l is by no means guaranteed, by presenting Tayo as an example, Silko at least suggests there is fundamental worth in pursuing and creating stories.
Silko counsels that the story's potential for good or ill should not be easily discounted or dismissed. She seems to understand all too well that human beings house both virtuous and vicious impulses; our stories are infused with both the sinister and the sublime. There is a unifying, mythical or archetypal realm which exists just beyond the scope of individual consciousness. Stories are tethered to and wound around this insubstantial place, and the power of each story is firmly rooted in this connection.
The novel, presented as a series of disjointed, possibly problematic, narrative frames, attempts to draw attention to this fact. "...no word exists alone, and the reason for choosing each word had to be explained with a story about why it must be said this certain way. That was the responsibility of being human" (35). Each fragment is ultimately interconnected and interdependent within the structure of the novel as a whole. The most meaningful interpretation thus requires the ability to perceive a work in its totality as well as its relation to its individual parts.
Witchery, evil, seeks to create stories which promote separation and stagnation, however. White people and their stories become the focus of Silko's analysis of witchery. They are unwitting pawns in the process of destroying themselves as well as all others. "...white people are only tools that witchery manipulates...It was Indian witchery that made white people in the first place" (132). By erasing or obscuring connections, witchery gives...