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The book Ceremony by Silko researched as a Monomyth
Ceremony: An Analysis of the Hero’s Journey
Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko is about the hardships faced by Tayo, a returned Native American World War Ⅱ Veteran. Tayo struggles throughout the novel to ascertain a resolution to the internal pandemonium he experiences in the form of battle fatigue. The story exhibits the stages of the Monomyth: a protagonist’s quest in relation to culture and self growth.
Tayo experiences all three stages of a monomyth; the departure, the initiation, and the return that are all constitutive fragments that make up one whole.
Stage one of a monomyth is the departure or separation. Tayo departs from his everyday life by leaving for the war. This can be deliberated as his call to adventure. The call to adventure comes when “the psychological forces of the mind become unbalanced” ( The Monomyth). The mind of Tayo becomes “unbalanced” when he decides to join the war and leaves the familiarity of his small town for the unpredictable and large world.
His Native American heritage becomes lost when he is engulfed by the white culture and finally accepted by members of the white community as he goes to battle.
The next part of stage one is the refusal of the call. After arriving on the battlefield Tayo proceeded to turn his back on the call to war. A realization occurred that fighting wasn’t so much about adventure but survival for him. Whenever it came time for Tayo to have to kill out of necessity and to help his fellow soldiers “Tayo could not pull the trigger” (Silko 7).
Crossing the threshold to another world ensued when Tayo arrived back from the war. He spent time in a war veterans hospital before he was allowed to be released back into society. Being kept there under watch was like having to be approved by a threshold guardian before he was able to cross the threshold and go home.
Once Tayo got past the threshold guardian he entered the belly of the whale. Upon arriving home he was immediately bedridden, he found himself in a dark place. Tayo thought that “there was no place left for him” (Silko 32). He didn’t find any peace because “the silence and the emptiness echoed the loss” (Silko 32).”The Monomyth Cycle” called the belly of the whale, “a place of fluid dream-like forms.” This explicates the period of time Tayo spent indisposed after arrival in the threshold of the journey.
Stage two of the hero’s odyssey is initiation. On the road of trials Tayo becomes challenged when he struggles mentally and physically with multiple attempts to return to the working world. His nightmares caused problems for him especially when combined with the influences of alcohol. The beer loosened his muscles and “swelled through his blood” (Silko 62). During one of his failed attempts to socialize with old friends he became angered by what Emo said about the war. The alcohol caused loosening of “what clenched the anger and held it in place” (Silko 62). Tayo lashed out and stabbed Emo as a result.
Tayo then met temptation in the form of bliss in the arms of a lover. On one of his tasks he becomes sidetracked by a mysterious woman. He was searching for the wandering cattle and instead found and made love to the woman. The temptation from the woman could have potentially “plunged him back into the darkness” (The Monomyth); however, Tayo learned from the woman and she helped to guide him towards his goal.
The final stage of the monomyth is the return. Recrossing the threshold occurred during the ceremonies that Betonie performed with Tayo. The final ceremony that Tayo performs in the cave is like a rebirth of sort. while the first threshold crossing symbolized death.
On the return journey the hero sometimes has to be rescued from “death or a state of helplessness” (Heroes). When Tayo finally makes it onto the right path to returning he is now willing to accept help from animals and people regularly. The mountain lion’s tracks show him the way to his lost cattle. The woman helped Tayo by at first showing him the direction to find his cattle and then again when she corrals the sheep for him. This brings on the realization that he is ready to come back to the living figuratively.
When Tayo masters both worlds, home and the new world of ceremonies, he realizes nothing separates the two. He thought by going to the war he lost the people and the mountains he loved most but was proven wrong. The balance and differences “between the comfortable safety of his home and the new world” (Heroes), were restored.
Which leads to the next step in the stage of return: restoration of harmony. The reinstatement of balance between character and mind brought peace to Tayo’s life. He was able to completely return home and for the first time in his life became a full member of his families house. Their acceptance was what Tayo had been looking for his entire life.
When all these steps and stages were completed it led to freedom and enlightenment for him. When Tayo reached the “understanding that everything is interrelated” (Heroes), he is now free to live between his home and the new world. With that understanding he can cease the confusion he felt comparing dreams to reality by accepting the connections, he can continue on with his life.
The monomyth clearly fits the novel Ceremony. The journey Tayo has through the myths of his culture better him in the end. It is when Tayo finally accepts and reflects upon his journey that he is able to move on.
Silko, Leslie Marmon. Ceremony. New York: The Viking Press, 1977. Print.
“Heroes of History.” Think Quest. Oracle Foundation, n.d. Web. 01 Sept. 2013.
“The Monomyth Cycle.” The Monomyth Cycle. N.p. n.d. Web. 01 Sept. 2013.
Vogler, Christopher. “Excerpts from Myth and the Movies, Stuart Voytilla₁.”
N.p. 1 June 2003. Web. 1 Sept. 2013
Cite this Ceremony: A Monomyth
Ceremony: A Monomyth. (2016, May 07). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/ceremony-a-monomyth/