Nature, Time & Death

In the beginning of the novel, Tayo frequently uses descriptions of the landscape and weather that seem to mirror his own emotions. The drought reflects how Tayo feels “hollow inside” (13) and Tayo also believes that he is responsible for the six year drought on the reservation because “he had prayed the rain away” (13) when he was in the jungle during the war. This belief stems from his Native American culture, and because of the stories he has heard he believes that he is personally responsible for the way nature is behaving. As a consequence of the drought, the “grass turned yellow and it did not grow” (13) and the animals are starving, and Tayo’s tears of guilt and anguish do little to make up for the lack of rain. Time is also mentioned in the novel as something that Tayo has a hard time grasping: “as he walked, the days and seasons disappeared into a twilight at the corner of his eyes” (13)  and “he cried at how the world had come undone, how thousands of miles, high ocean waves and green jungles could not hold people in their place. Years and months had become weak, and people could push against them and wander back and forth in time” (17). Tayo’s belief that time is something that can be manipulated instead of something that is fixed is an interesting concept which might be related to how he sees the world through his Native American heritage. I also find it interesting that when Tayo is sent home from the war, he remarks “how generous they had become, sending him to the L.A. depot alone, finally allowing him to die” (15). It is ironic that now that he is safely home from the war, he feels he is finally “allowed” to die, and sees the doctor as more of a threat to himself than the Japanese.



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One Response to Nature, Time & Death

  1. aaronmiller says:

    This is an interesting post. I agree that Tayo’s relationships with, and concepts of, time and the world are reminiscent of his Native American heritage. There are several interpretations that could be made about Tayo’s time spent in World War II and the way it impacted him. War damages everyone, but perhaps World War II, being a very modern and traumatizing war, impacted soldiers who held Native American concepts and values more than it did most soldiers. The Native American culture is one that is commonly associated with strong ties to the natural world and spirituality, so its reasonable to think that something as violent and strange as a World War could have a powerful effect on them. This certainly seems to be the case in Tayo’s situation and it’s interesting to see post-war feelings processed by someone with Native American values and try to make sense of how “the world had come undone.”