TTh 3:00-4:15 p.m., Shingleton Hall 8

Monday, January 28, 2013

Ceremony Assignment for Monday, 1/28/13

Leslie Marmon Silko
We have discussed the interrelationships among healing, ceremony, and storytelling in Laguna/Pueblo culture. We will continue exploration of these links in writing today.

Assignment: In a two- to three-paragraph comment to this post, answer this prompt: in Leslie Marmon Silko's Ceremony, Betonie says, "White people are only tools that witchery manipulates; and I tell you, we can deal with white people. . . . because we invented white people" (122). What does Betonie mean by "witchery"? What does he mean by the claim "we invented white people"? Finally, what is the nature of Betonie's relationship with Tayo?

You will begin work on this very short essay in class today; you may finish at any time prior to the deadline posted below. Use standard English. Cite textual evidence from Silko's novel. Remember: summarize or paraphrase most evidence and quote only when the exact phrasing is unique or especially important. Your comment may respond to previous comments as long as it otherwise fulfills these assignment criteria. Citation includes in-text citation and a list of Works Cited. See the citation link on this blog for instructions. In order to post a comment here, you must have an online account compatible with Blogspot. You may use either an existing online account, like your SU Gmail account, or set up a new one expressly for online work in this class. You may use whatever online moniker you prefer (barring the offensive) as long as your posts include your name. After the semester is over and final grades issued, you are free to disable any online account you used for this class. This assignment counts as one participation grade and is due by midnight on 1/29/13.

14 comments:

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  4. Eric Huber

    Betonie is the medicine man commissioned by Auntie to cure Tayo's battle fatigue symptoms. When he says the word "witchery," he intends a double meaning. First, he is referring to his medicine, which he wants Tayo to think can manipulate even white men. Second, Betonie is referring to the nature and the land that first belonged to the Natives but now belongs to the white men. By living among Native medicine, setting, and tradition, no matter how hard they try, the white men will be unable to distance themselves completely from the influence.
    Silko writes, "’Look,’ Tayo said through clenched teeth, ‘I’ve been sick, and half the time I don’t know if I’m still crazy or not. I don’t know anything about ceremonies or these things you talk about. I don’t know how long anything has been going on. I just need help’” (Silko 115). Tayo clearly has lost his sense of what the medicine man is talking about. They are not on the same page. Betonie's assertion that "we invented white people" is not in keeping with the experiences Tayo has had. A white people's war has taken ownership of most of his psychological life, and he is unable to understand anything that is going on, let alone Betonie's self-promotion. What Betonie means by "we invented white people" is an attempt to communicate his idea that the land, tradition, and medicine of the Natives will be part of white people's culture too, and thus, the Natives have done it all first. While this may be true, Betonie says it in the interest of inflating his ego and promoting his medicine.


    Silko, Leslie Marmon. "Ceremony." New York: Penguin 1977. Print.

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  5. Betonie is the medicine man. Before the white people came over the medicine men would never have had trouble finding a cure or understanding what was wrong with someone. When people got sick or needed some sort of help the medicine man was there to take care of it. The “witchery” Betonie speaks of is what the white people brought over. Whites to the Pueblo area brought mistreatment of power that was unimaginable to them, unknown diseases, and the medicine man was put to the test. The medicine man was not used to these sorts of diseases and it caused a lot of natives to die. The witchery continues as the modern age comes about because of the power aspect. Power leads to war. The natives were part of the war and that leads to more death.
    However, Betonies states that, “That is the trickery of the witchcraft,” he said. “They want us to believe all the evil resides with white people. Then we will look no further to see what is really happening.” He says that its actually Indian witchery that made white people. The novel then tells a story, in poem form, of how the Indian witch created the white people. He is basically saying that it is not the white peoples fault on how they act because they did not create themselves, Indians did. Because the other witches thought a story was nothing to be feared they created a so-called “witchery” with their actions of laughing and making fun. The witch unleashed the terrible story and out with it came the white people. So because of their actions white people were created, the thing they would fear and take over the natives.
    Betonie seems to understand Tayo. Tayo’s mother had a child with a white male making Tayo an outcast. Tayo always seemed to try to be seeking acceptance. Betonie worked with the white community so he seemed to be more understanding of Tayo and less quick to judge him, unlike his aunt. He is offered by Betonie to take on the achievement of the ceremony. If he is successful he can heal both himself and his natives.

    Silko, Leslie Marmon. Ceremony. New York: Penguin Books, 1977. Print.

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  6. Throughout Silko’s novel, Ceremony, a sense of conflict between light and darkness is clearly evident. This struggle is personified mainly through Tayo’s battle within his psyche. Tayo’s struggle with battle fatigue leads him on a quest for purification. With the help of Betonie, an insightful but eccentric medicine man, Tayo discovers the struggles apparent in the world which mirror his own mental constitution. Betonie formulates a reformed ceremony to treat Tayo. This ceremony will not only purify the contamination of Tayo’s soul, but will also address social struggles between the white people and the natives as well as the war between witchery and ceremony.
    Witchery in the presence of the novel is nearly (if not) as powerful as the ritual of ceremony. Witchery in this context is best defined as secular ideals and the ways of the world. Tayo is plagued by witchery while he searches for a remedy to his shell-shocked state. Tayo turns to alcoholism as a form of self-medication and suffers from depression. Such witchery only stands to worsen his condition. All the craziness (pun intended) in Tayo;s life is a product of the witchery which surrounds him. War and its effects are some of the key offenders of witchery which have impacted Tayo. War has stripped Tayo of his loved ones (Rocky), his social acceptance, and his mind.
    The foil to the witchery present in Tayo’s society is the ritualistic catharsis manifested in the form of ceremony. It is for this reason Tayo seeks the counsel of Betonie. Betonie’s history as a medicine man and wisdom assist Tayo in his need for a bountiful ceremony. The medicine man guides Tayo through a revolutionary ceremony in hopes of purifying him of the witchery that envelopes him and reestablishing the power of the act.
    Ironically, the power of ceremony in turn manifested witchery itself. This witchery is represented by the white man, his lifestyle, and his practices. Betonie relates that those responsible for creating the white people are those who manipulated the power of the ceremony. In fact, Betonie claims that the natives invented the white people. Through the power of ceremony, natives predicted the arrival of the white man as well as the destruction and persecution he would bring upon the land. While the power of ceremony can create spiritual and physical change in the individual, it can also bring stories to life. Story poems recounted in the novel relate the prophecy and incarnation of the white people. The power of story and ceremony invented the white people, the very perpetrators of the witchery that rebels against the native land. The whites are manipulated by witchery in the same way that the natives were once (positively) manipulated by ceremonies. The very power which invented the white people can be used in the form of ceremony to eliminate the witchery which accompanies them.
    A ying and yang parallel exists between witchery and ceremony as well as the white man and the native. One cannot exist without the other. The darkness of witchery can only be purged by the light of ceremony, and witchery can only come into existence through ceremony.




    Works Cited
    Silko, Leslie Marmon. Ceremony. New York, NY: Penguin, 1986. Print.

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  7. In Leslie Marmon Silko's Ceremony, Betonie is a medicine man Tayo goes to meet in order to rid himself of the effects of battle fatigue and shell shock he acquired in the second World War. Betonie can be seen as a symbol of the old traditional Indian ways, as opposed to the modern white world that has infected Tayo and caused his illness. Thus, Betonie is presented as a solution to the problems haunting the post-WW2 Indian population, embodied in Tayo.
    Betonie uses the word “witchery” to represent what is ultimately the Indians' separation from their traditional natural world. This meaning for the word is established in the story depicting the birth of “witchery.” The story says, “They see no life / When they look / They see only objects / The world is a dead thing for them.” (125). However, in the same story the coming of the white people to America is also foretold. Thus, “witchery is established as not only as the Indian separation from their traditional way of life, but also as the white people's influence on and oppression of the native Americans.
    However, the influence of “witchery” cuts deeper than this, as evidenced by Betonie saying, “White people are only tools that the witchery manipulates. . . . We invented white people” (122). Witchery, therefore, can be also be argued to describe the Indians' own sense of guilt over losing their land. They “invented” white people in the sense that they let and continue to let themselves be beaten down by the loss of their land. Their cycle of self-blame fuels itself, rendering the Indian population unable to respond to the oppression they face from the whites. Betonie attempts to make Tayo understand that this submissive mentality is what he, and the whole Indian population, must defeat in order to be able to break free form the shackles of “witchery.”

    Works Cited
    Silko, Leslie Marmon. Ceremony. New York, NY: Penguin, 1986. Print.

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  8. Leslie Marmon Silko makes an important claim about evil bridging races in her post-classical novel, Ceremony. Old Betonie, a Navajo medicine man explains the nature of life when he says, “They want us to believe all evil resides with white people. Then we will look no further to see what is really happening. They want us to separate ourselves from white people, to be ignorant and helpless” to Tayo, a World War II veteran (122). Betonie is Tayo’s last hope at healing from the PTSD that made Tayo feel dead and invisible. Tayo learns that witchery is general evil, which has always been in the world and will never go away; the evil in individuals of all races created white people, who in Betonie’s definition of “white people,” are detached from the alive world around them.
    Since Betonie is Native American, he uses imagery and stories to illustrate his points. Witchery is general evil preformed by individuals globally. Anyone can perform witchery. By saying that “we invented white people,” Bertonie claims that general evil in individuals created “white people” (122). Old Betonie believes “white people” are humans who objectify the world contrasting the Native American belief in communing with nature. Old Betonie is mentoring Tayo who is suffering with his understanding of the world after he returns from war. Both Betonie and Tayo are untraditional Native Americans, sharing hazel eyes. Tayo’s father was a white man, and Betonie’s grandmother was a Mexican. Aside from feeling protected by Betonie, he felt included in a way his family had never shown him (his family being of pure Native American descent). Betonie’s ability to explain evil in individuals as opposed to pointing a finger at a single race through the use of Native American storytelling helped bring Tayo back to life.

    Works Cited
    Silko, Leslie Marmon. “Ceremony.” New York, NY: Penguin, 1986. Print.

    As I read the novel, I thought Silko meant that witchery isn't restricted to whites or Native Americans but it was general evil residing in human beings regardless of race. After reading other peoples' responses (Nathan) I'm leaning towards witchery being evil as the natives saw it; evil in secular ideals?

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  9. Tayo admits to Betonie his befuddlement of how Indian ceremonies can have any impact at all when this bloody dilemna of war rests both in the hands of the Indians as well as the white people (Silko 122). Betonie then claims that “white people are only tools that witchery manipulates” and that the Indians “invented white people.” By using the term witchery, Betonie means the self-destruction of the Indians. He believes that the Indians are too far along in the cycle of blaming white people for their situation that they cannot see how they personally have contributed to the problem (122).
    By stating “we invented white people,” Betonie is implying that the Indians are using the white people as a tangible thing to blame for their suffering. He claims that the Indians want something to curse and hate, and they have “invented” that all white people are bad so they can remain trapped in the victim role. This blame, this hate, that was initially an escape so as not to deal with one’s own troubles, has turned into a total revilement of the white people, so much so that many Indians are willing to wallow in self-destruction and the dignity they obtain from blame rather than admit they have a hand in their own suffering (122).
    Tayo sees reflected in his psychological and spiritual healer, Betonie, what he is afraid to voice and take ownership of. He sees that Betonie is of mixed decent like himself, which leads Tayo to open up, thus learning that his insights and opinions of how his family and companions have dealt with their situation are valid—as they are shared and spoken by Betonie. At first, Tayo has extreme distrust for Betonie as he is throttled by seeing him through the lens that others put upon him. At some point however, Tayo chooses to abandon these outside views—as well as his own personal paranoia—and in doing so, lets go of the feeling of having to see a certain group of people in an unfair, generalized light and enter a new passage to personal healing.
    --By Liv

    Bibliography

    Silko, Leslie Marmon. Ceremony. New York: Penguin, 2006. Print.

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  10. Leslie Marmon Silkos' novel Ceremony brings to light the perspective of the Native American people under the backdrop of post World War II America. The character of Betonie is a medicine man who is supposed to provide a 'cure' for Tayo's condition upon returning from war. Betonie states "White people are only tools...we invented white people; it was Indian witchery that made white people" while talking with Tayo (Silko 122). Witchery is itself defined as the obvious practice of magic, but also as the "Compelling power exercised by beauty, eloquence, or other attractive or fascinating qualities" (MW 803). For the purposes of this explanation elequence and 'other attractive or fascinating qualities' will be the primary assumption.
    That White people are the tools of witchery is that the White people are the employers of the compelling fascination and eloquence. It was through these methods that the White man took everything from the Native American people. Their land was taken from them through deception, false claims, and empty promises. Even to the present where Native American's vie for rights the White man uses the bureaucracy and diplomatic action to waylay, sidestep and ignore the pleas of the people.
    A much bolder claim of Betonie's is that of Indian witchery creating the White people. With what has been established of witchery as compelling with fascination, it is clear to see how Indian's created their circumstances. When the White people came to their shores most greeted them with open arms, offered them food and trade. The Native American's showed the glory and wonder that was to be found in the America's and in doing so spellbound the White people, and brought them over in ever greater numbers. They created the tide of the White man through their own witchery, they did not create the actual White man.
    - Andrew

    Bibliography

    Silko, Leslie Marmon. Ceremony. New York: Penguin, 2006. Print

    "Witchery." Miriam Webster. 1st Edition. 1974. Print

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  11. Ashley Harris

    Since Betonie is the medicine man and is known to help cure those in need, it is possible that his meaning of “witchery” was formed by being a part of years of medicine men and women who must have come across countless white settlers who may have mentally or physically affected Pueblos. Betonie states that, "White people are only tools that witchery manipulates; and I tell you, we can deal with white people. . . . because we invented white people" (122). This quote gives evidence that there have been other Pueblos who have been physically and mentally affected by similar events, so there is a way to cure Tayo of his newfound condition, PTSD. Betonie also understands that Tayo has built up a hatred for whites because of the war.
    Betonie’s statement of inventing white people could possibly mean that over time they have created an image that the whites only brought pain and destruction. Betonie states that, “They want us to believe all evil resides with white people” (122). That quote goes along with the idea of inventing white people, because the invention of white people was the notion that all whites were horrible people. Betonie is trying to teach Tayo that he cannot blame PTSD on all whites because that just feeds into the notion of all whites being evil and destructive. The reason why Betonie was trying to teach Tayo that he mustn’t blame his condition on all whites is because Betonie seems to have a sense of understanding with Tayo. His understanding of Tayo is most likely steamed by understanding that war does things to people and Tayo dealt with traumatic events at a certain age. Betonie understands Tayo’s struggle because Tayo is half white and Betonie is half Mexican. Both these characters share this quality of feeling like an outsider in their own community. Since Betonie is the medicine man, he contains a lot of wisdom that helps Tayo understand the world better so Tayo can complete the ceremony.



    Works Cited
    Silko, Leslie Marmon. Ceremony. New York, NY: Penguin, 1986. Print.

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  12. ~Amanda Edlow~

    Betonie is the medicine man of Gallup and his relationship with Tayo is to cure his PTSD and vomiting. Yet, Betonie end up allowing Tayo to understand himself, his Indian history and his negative experiences better. Through their interaction, Tayo begins to gain a better perspective of his emotions. Tayo actually TALKS to Betonie, where in other parts of the novel, he was very introspective. Tayo talks about his mixed race, the war, and the deaths of his brother and uncle, topics that seem to be the cause of his mental state. As he talks, we find that Tayo’s confusion and denial is overcome with calmness and peacefulness and a willingness to express himself. That is “medicine” within itself. Betonie allows Tayo to “see the whole picture” by speaking reality and truth to Tayo while also listening to him and his concerns.

    A topic that appeared in their conversation revolved around “witchery”. Betonie quoted, “Witchery works to scare people, to make them fear growth…that’s what the witchery is counting on “(116). Betonie, having lived in his residence for so long, knows Indian history and the recent evolution of white civilization. He sees the advances happening because of the white people and non-Indian people. He refers to their actions as witchery because of their creation of a more “developed” world. This world is going against the natural world of the Indians and their land. “Witchery” isn’t necessarily a negative word to Betonie, yet this word focuses on the “triumphs” of this new civilization rising, which will either force the Indians to suffer, be no more, or convert. Betonie sees witchery as something that depressingly, “just is” and feels that the present day Indians should not take this scheme so seriously, find a balance, and know that they were here first and aren’t in fear.

    Because of witchery, the separation of the white and Indian people is apparent. In Tayo’s case, because of his mixed raced, he is not taken seriously by his family and the War has also sparked differences between the whites and Indians. There was also mention of changes within ceremonies...anyway, while Betonie also sees these observances, he knows this separation is just out of ignorance. Betonie tells Tayo, they invented the white people. The Indians and their beliefs were a fascination to the white man. So basically the white men are walking in their footsteps their just walking in a more domineering way.

    Works Cited
    Silko, Leslie Marmon. “Ceremony.” New York, NY: Penguin, 1986. Print.

    * I HOPE THIS IS GOOD!!!!***

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  13. Throughout the entire novel Ceremony, written by Leslie Marmon Silko, there is a strong essence of spirituality in Native Americans who were, in their beliefs, more attuned to the land unlike that of the English. “There was something about the way the old man said the word ‘comfortable.’ It had a different meaning—not the comfort of big houses or rich food or even clean sheets, but the comfort of belonging with the land…”(Silko, 108). This way of life the Native Americans lived prior to the colonization of the New World was one of steep contrast to that of the English. But once the English arrived in the America’s, the Native Americans way of life, as they knew it changed. So as a way to rationalize the arrival of the white people, the medicine man, Betonie, uses the term “witchery” which entails a magical influence of some kind, in this case an evil one, to explain the presence of the English. “It was Indian witchery that made white people in the first place” (122). Yet at the same time Betonie drops hints to a bigger picture of some sort. “Some people act like witchery is responsible for everything that happens, when actually witchery only manipulates a small portion” (120). It’s hard to decipher the bigger picture Betonie is slowly revealing to Tayo at this current point in the novel.

    The nature of Batonie’s relationship with Tayo is one parallel to that of a mentor in the life of an individual from a younger generation who needs and also desire to have guidance. Instead of turning to alcohol to numb the traumatizing experience of war, Tayo recognizes that he needs help. So he goes with Robert willing to see the medicine doctor. Upon meeting, Betonie senses Tayo’s nervousness and offers him the chance to leave, “he wouldn’t be the first one to run away” as Betonie put it (109). But Tayo ultimately makes the decision to stay with Betonie and open up about his past experiences that are troubling him. So being a medicine man, Betonie helps by revealing a new perspective to looking at the matters at hand.

    Works Cited
    Silko, Leslie Marmon. “Ceremony.” New York, NY: Penguin Books, 1986. Print.

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  14. Danielle Furr

    As part of the journey to recover from the effects of battle fatigue, Tayo's uncle Robert takes him to seek the help of a medicine man named Betonie. Although the two men share some things in common such as their hazel eyes (119), a sign of their mixed heritage, their views and opinions of the world are strikingly different. As a medicine man, Betonie is more deeply in touch with the history of their people and the connection that they still have to their ancestral territory.

    One of the primary terms that Betonie uses in discussing with Tayo his views of the world is "witchery." He uses this term to describe what he sees as evil. It "works to scare people, to make them fear growth" (132). The other Indians distrust Betonie because he has made changes to their established ceremonies in order to help them better help heal the new sicknesses such as alcoholism or Tayo's battle fatigue. He clarifies this view of witchery later on, adding that "witchcraft...wants us to believe that all evil resides with white people" (132).

    Betonie claims that "[Indians] invented white people" (132). He follows this with a chant about an ancient gathering of witches from all over the world, before white people or anything European. They are all showing off their skills, until finally the last one steps forward and tells them a simple story, the story of white people.The constant refrain of her tale is that "They fear./They fear the world./They destroy what they fear./They fear themselves" (135). As Betonie has explained, this is the primary tool of witchery, to make people fear. Just as the white people feared the Indians, so the Indians feared the white people when they came, and in doing this they "created the white people" as the witch in Betonie's chant had spoken them to be.


    Works Cited

    Silko, Leslie Marmon. "Ceremony." New York: Penguin, 1986. Print.

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