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The Man to Send Rain Clouds
Transcript of The Man to Send Rain Clouds
Mix: Laguna Pueblo Native American, Anglo American and Mexican American
Grew up on the edge of pueblo society: at the edge of the reservation, and not allowed to participate in various ritual or join many of the pueblo societies.
Educated by grandmother and aunts in the tradional stories of the Laguna people
Identified most strongly with the native part of her ancestry. Earned a BA in English from the University of New Mexico
She wrote "The Man to Send Rain Clouds" when she was still at school, it was published and earned her a National Endowment for the Humanities Discovery Grant.
Wrote novels, shortstories, essays, poetry, articles, and filmscripts
Primarily concerned with the relations between different cultures and between human beings and the natural world
One of key figures in the second wave of the Native American Renaissance
Awards: Grant from National Endowment for the Arts and poetry award from Chicago Review, both 1974; Pushcart Prize for poetry, 1977; John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation grant, 1981. Leslie Marmon Silko Analysis The main event in the story, the death of the old man, reveals a clashing between two very different cultures, their ways of life and death. The rituals of the Catholic church are blended with the tradition of the Pueblo practices.
The local people are very acceptive of death. The death of the old man was received with respect, but there was no sorrow or anguish. It is as if they were just saying goodbye to the old man. This attitude is demonstrated in the following quote:
"Then Leon painted with yellow under the old man's broad nose, and finally, when he had painted green across the chin, he smiled.
'Send us rain clouds, Grandfather.'"
On the other hand, the priest received the news in a more solemn manner. Though there was no expressed feelings, but the priest himself gives an impression of sadness:
"The priest walked away slowly. Leon watched him climb the hill, and when he had disappeared within the tall, thick walls,..." Then, the burial ritual of the natives are contrasted with that of the Catholic tradition, and the inevitable mixing of them.
The Indian burial is very simple and modest: the old man is dressed in casual, clean clothes, the gravediggers comes to dig up a place to lay his body, the rituals are performed by other old men, the family sprinkles corn meal around the body, and within the same day, the body is ready to be lowered into the grave.
The rituals suggested by the priest involves the Last Rites, and a funeral Mass at the very least.
The act of sprinkling Holy Water obviously has very different meanings to the two different perspectives. The priest does so for a somberer reason, the family wants it because they think he might get thristy.
Then the wishes of the family also revealed the culture of the native people:
"He felt good because it was finished, and he was happy about the sprinkling of the holy water; now the old man could send them big thunderclouds for sure." The Man To Send Rain Clouds Leslie Marmon Silko Story Summary Main Characters: Teofilo, Leon, Ken, Louise, Teresa, Father Paul
Teofilo was discovered dead under a tree.
Ken and Leon brought him back home. On the way home, they met Father Paul, but they did not tell him about the old man.
Back at home, they changed the old man's clothing, and wrapped him in a red blanket according to the Native's customs.
The old man was to be burried at sunset. People did not want him to be thristy in after-life, so Ken and Leon went to the local church to get Father Paul to administer Holy Water to the old man.
At first, Father Paul declined, he insisted on performing the whole burial ritual. Later, he changed his mind, and followed the young men to the grave.
The sun was disappearing at the horizon. Father Paul sprayed Holy Water over the blanket.
The old man is lowered into his grave. Short version An old man was found dead, he was buried according to the local customs. Literary Method The author expresses the tone of the story not through words or actions of the characters, but through the environment in which the character is acting. Normally, it is a clear blue sky, clusters of cloud flowing gently, above a grassy plain, puffs of wind breeze through the plain, a peaceful land. The curtains were heavy, and the light from within faintly penetrated But the tone is reversed when the story turns to the priest. the patio full of shadows the last warmth of the sun on their backs The sun was gone, and over on the highway the eastbound lane was full of headlights. The contrast between the two different perspectives is stark. It is not only cultural assimilation, but also technological invasion that the Laguna natives are facing, and they are straining to retain their traditions.