Thursday, February 27, 2014

Reflective Color

I have always been drawn to color as a description tool in literary work. As a matter of fact, I actually wrote my senior seminar essay all about the use of red to symbolize sacrifice in Thomas Hardy's novel Return of the Native. Therefore, I was automatically drawn to all the descriptive color in Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko.

Now, being as I have not totally finished the novel yet, I can't give a complete summary of the story. However, what I can say is that it is a very colorful tale about pain and loss. I also feel like it definitely deals with P.T.S.D. (Post traumatic stress disorder). Tayo for sure exhibits symptoms of P.T.S.D. in the way that he is handling life after war. Additionally, he is also dealing with survivors guilt because he lived and Rocky (his cousin whom he was raised like brothers with) didn't. I also have opinions about other characters but for now I'd really like to just focus on Tayo.


At the beginning of this novel Tayo takes about his time spent in the hospital. His description is riddled with the colors white and gray I found that it was very interesting that while he was in this environment he felt like he was invisible. He continually referred to himself as the invisible man, over and over again. I couldn't help but wonder if maybe those colors symbolized oppression to him and maybe that was part of the root cause of his invisibleness. When reading further on there are many occasions when people are referred to as "white man," and so on. We also know that when Tayo returns home, it is to a reservation. Moreover, almost every time that the color white has been used so far in this novel it has been in conjunction with things such as invisibility and remoteness, as well as other things such as this. I find all of this very interesting because white often symbolizes purity. However, if in the case of Tayo, he equates the color white to white people I can see how it would have a derogatory connotation. 


On the other hand, I really feel like in this novel colors really have a distinct impression on people and their homes. The reason I feel this way is because; "The flood water was the color of the Earth, of their skin, of the blood, his blood dried brown in the bandages" (Silko 26). This is not just another beautifully colorful line, it really shows how connected Tayo and his people are to the land; to their homes. This line made me feel like they are so connected to their home, actually, to the land that is their home, that they literally reflect it in their skin. That is why I feel like the colors in this novel are very important. I feel like the way Silko uses colors in this novel they reflect the people the homes of the people that they describe.


1 comment:

  1. Commas, my love. But as always your perspective is a joy and one I would never see without your eyes. It is interesting to ruminate on color. In the far east, white is the color of mourning. We learn in Ceremony that white medicine is useless and white people are the enemy. Poor Tayo must wear this half-white label like a scarlet A. More color ... I can't get Adam Beach out of my head while I am reading this book. I just see him as Tayo!

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