Date of Publication
Dr. T. Gregory Garvey, Professor of English Literature
Since European explorers first came into contact with the indigenous people of the New World, they created two opposing images of “The Indian” based on their own white values. Through their very natures these contrary images, the Noble Savage and the barbaric heathen, dehumanize Native Americans through shallow stereotypes. Yet, these images persisted throughout history, lasting even to the modern day. In this essay, I argue that Leslie Marmon Silko responds to these stereotypes in her novel Ceremony by dehumanizing and rehumanizing her characters. The main character, Tayo, struggles to understand what it means to be human, but eventually reclaims his humanity when he immerses himself in Laguna culture. In this way, Silko rejects white expectations and legitimizes Native American definitions of humanity.
Weed, Jessica, "Dehumanization in Silko’s Ceremony" (2018). Senior Honors Theses. 235.