The Effects of Time in Ceremony College

In her novel Ceremony, Leslie Marmon Silko subverts trends of the conventional Western narrative through her descriptions of time. Rather than telling the story of Tayo in a linear chronology, Silko instead creates a more authentic experience by constantly shifting in between moments. In addition to being a Laguna Pueblo American Indian, Tayo is also a war veteran suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; these two major characteristics affect Tayo’s relationship with time in a way that does not align with traditional Western storytelling. In Ceremony, the Laguna Pueblo belief in a circular timeline interacts with PTSD flashback symptoms in a way that creates a unique experience for the reader.

When read through the lens of Western culture, the chronology of Ceremony is both jarring and difficult to understand. The narrative does not rely on specific dates, and the timeline of the story comes together through context clues and inferences. For example, it is implied that the story must take place in the years surrounding World War II, as the opening paragraph references “Japanese soldiers shouting orders” (Ceremony 6) to Tayo. Later, it becomes clear that the story takes place within the year 1945 during Tayo’s interaction...

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