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Ashley Making It Different

Page history last edited by Ashley Champagne 8 years ago


Last week I scanned Silko's Ceremony using our department's DIY book scanner, and did a few word frequency searches to see what would come up. Unsurprisingly, the ManyEyes visualization demonstrated that parts of the physical body and descriptions of the body are important. But it also, less obviously, showed how the color of animals and landscape are often described carefully: 





Color is significant as a way of describing race in the text. Tayo, after all, is both Native American and white in ancestry, education, and experience. His background and experiences are hugely influenced by race. Many of the descriptions of body parts in the novel are also racialized. The novel discusses "Mexican eyes" (99), and carefully mentions eye color-whether it be a hybrid of colors or can be described as one color. People are often described as "White" or as a nameless "Man." But so too are the colors of the animals and the landscape important, which is much less noticeable without analyzing word frequency through digital tools. There is a "yellow" striped cat, "yellow" landscape, and a "yellow japanese bastard." Below are some other examples: The earth has a color, the sky is "too pale blue," wet sand is a color, eye and skin and spring and so many other nouns are carefully colored:


In a Native American text where animals, landscape, and humans are seen as interconnected, where time is circular rather than linear, where the story opens with a male pregnancy that is bodily and nauseous, what does it mean that landscape and animals are also carefully described?


Is the land and landscape's "colorful" descriptions representative of landscape as character? Does seeing the landscape as a character challenge a "fetishization" of concepts of land or place as ahistorical or unrealistically tied to economic and social pressures?




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