Silko’s choice of form

To begin, I want to step back from the content of the story and focus on the form in which Silko chooses to write and compile “Ceremony.” I have come to notice over the years that how an author chooses to say sometimes can be very deliberate and central to the story. It becomes evident in the opening pages of the novel that Silko has no intention of adhering to traditional standards of novel form. With no division of chapters and poems irregularly placed throughout the work, the question is then raised as to why she chose to write this way.  Is there a reason that the third poem “What She Said” is at the very bottom of the page, or that the following page contains only the word “Sunrise”? I would like to suggest that by making her sections unidentifiable, she is making a direct connection to the unclear themes of dreams, myths, memory, and reality. Perhaps our confusion while reading is meant to somehow connect us to the confusion felt by Tayo as he deals with the stress and confusion of the war. Silko not only ignores the rules of novel formatting, she also combines poetry and prose to not allow her work to be put in a genre as well. Is this simply to pay respect to the traditional story telling ways of her Native American culture, or is there a deeper meaning to the madness?

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One Response to Silko’s choice of form

  1. chrisjaynes says:

    The format of Silko’s story really struck me as well. While Native American story telling may be an influence, I think there is a definite relation between the cloudy, shape-shifting style of the book and Tayo’s own mental health. Tayo seems to have parts of himself stuck in the past; memories of difficult childhood and the trauma in Japan prevent him from fully immersing in the present. The format mimics this by constantly drifting between different times and places. It’s kind of ironic that this gives us such as full picture of Tayo and his life while all he wants to do is fade into the environment as a nonentity. It will be interesting to see if the structure of the novel settles down as Tayo’s mental condition improves.