In Leslie Marmon Silkos postmodern and Native American novel, Ceremony, she illustrates the gradual and painful recovery of a Laguna veteran from World War II named Tayo, the main character. Tayo goes on a difficult quest to search for a metaphorical antidote for his physical, psychological, cultural, and spiritual pain, brought upon him by the war. In doing so, Silko demonstrates cultural conflicts within his quest as Tayo encounters a society segregated by race and culture. Tayos quest is characterized by his post traumatic stress syndrome, which puts him through an enormous amount of uncomfortable emotions. Threw Silkos character Tayo, she demonstrates her understanding of multi-cultural differences to illustrate the controversial conflict known as racial diversity.
In her novel, Leslie Marmon Silko manages to make characters of a specific race racist towards another specific race. When this book was written in the 1970s, America was going through a drastic change in culture with the help of the civil rights movement. During this time period it took a while for some Americans to adjust to the situation because they felt a little uncomfortable with all of the changes that were occurring and furthered the idea that people are afraid of change. In Silkos novel, the people of Laguna are simply afraid of change because of the way they treated Tayo, who was known as a half-breed (Native American descent mixed with Caucasian). A character by the name of Night Swan, discussed with Tayo about that issue. Night Swan told Tayo with an understanding tone, I saw the color of your eyes. She addressed the fact that he was embarrassed because he was of a mixed ethnicity. She then explained to him that people were teasing him only because they are afraid of change. Night Swan, who also happens to be of mixed ethnicity, further explained that Tayo has nothing to worry about because mixed ethnicity is the future of society. In somewhat of a way, Tayo is superior to all non mixed individuals for the sole reason that he is a result of change.
Sadly in the novel, there are members of Tayos family who are also afraid of change. When the news came out that Tayos uncle Josiah had an affair with Night Swan, Tayos aunt, know as Auntie, was extremely disturbed because of who he did it with it and not because of the fact that he had an affair. She let her animosity affect her relationship with her brother. Her dislike of other races first became known when her sister Laura had an intimate relationship with a white man, which led to the birth of Tayo. Auntie became extremely angry at Laura and took it all out on Tayo as he was growing up. Tayos family now had two ways they were dishonored.
Uncle Josiah never intended to dishonor his family by having an affair with Night Swan. Silko makes Josiah a victim of Night Swans lust, as would any other man of her age. Despite his failure to resist her exoticness, his actions are completely impulsive unlike Tayos mother Laura. Lauras character is afraid of how individuals of her descent seem inferior to White Caucasian Christians. Lauras extremely immature decisions led her to the embarrassing life as a prostitute and as she became older, she grew increasingly became attracted to individuals of White/Caucasian descent. That attraction led to her families feeling of shame towards her. Then the shame for her grew to an all time high
When she gave birth to Tayo and left him with Auntie.