The Power of Stories; Unconventional Narrative in Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony College

In her novel Ceremony Leslie Silko overtly breaks from the conventional “Western” narrative. The narrative form that she utilises is broken, merging prose where time is fluid with poetry and stories based in Laguna culture. What she creates is a vivid, idiosyncratic, and often times confusing narrative that, in a manner reminiscent of William Faulkner, creates fully rounded characters within a palpable world. Why, however, does she do so? Silko, through this break from conventional narratives, creates a form that echoes the cultural heritage stories and storytelling have within the Laguna people, a heritage that also highlights the differences between the Native-American Laguna and “white” cultures.

One way in which Silko breaks from narrative convention to echo Laguna culture is through the novel having a sense of self-awareness. The novel opens with a poem that concludes with the lines: “She is sitting in her room / thinking of a story now / I’m telling you the story / she is thinking.”[1] The “she” mentioned is Thought-Woman, one of the creators of the universe alongside her sisters. It is unclear whether the story Thought-Woman is thinking of is that of the novels protagonist, Tayo, or the Laguna creation myth that runs...

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