Yellow Woman Summary

Leslie Marmon Silko

Yellow Woman

  • Plot overview and analysis written by an experienced literary critic.
  • Full study guide for this title currently under development.
  • To be notified when we launch a full study guide, please contact us.

Yellow Woman Summary

SuperSummary, a modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, offers high-quality study guides that feature detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, quotes, and essay topics.  This one-page guide includes a plot summary and brief analysis of Yellow Woman by Leslie Marmon Silko.

Within Yellow Woman by Leslie Marmon Silko, the author creates a compendium of bold essays regarding the voice of Native Americans. She explores the many aspects of literature through the ideologies of heritage, language and the use of the land within the culture. She illuminates the wisdom of the elderly Native Americans and discusses the unethical treatment that is faced, as well. Since Silko is devoted to creating educational parameters regarding the Native Americans, these essays are stories that can be remembered for a lifetime. She facilitates a unique voice and emphasizes that life should be cherished.

Within the specific story known as Yellow Woman and a Beauty of the Spirit, Silko discusses her Pueblo culture based on an array of human values. She learns from her parents and grandparents that the most important concepts of life include a person’s strength, their character, their kindness towards others, how they treat animals and how they treat nature. For traditional people of the Pueblo culture, physical appearance does not take precedence. These individuals are not concerned with skin color, the shape of a person’s eyes, the size of their ears, etc. Moreover, the culture does not create lines of separation regarding social status among the community.

In the beginning of the story, Silko indicates how she is told stories regarding Spider Woman, the Yellow Woman and Mother Creator from her ancestors. She also indicates how each of these characters represents strong, empowered women who embody a great deal of feminism, hence the term Yellow Woman. The author also says that some of the women even have masculine traits such as thick biceps and strong shoulders and this adds to their power as a whole. The details regarding these women are projected throughout their healthy lifestyles and their positive attitudes. This helps to create a strong mind, body and spirit as well. As seen in this story, the beauty of an individual is represented through a person’s inner being. If a person is in harmony with his or herself, then this transcends to others as well.

Towards the middle of the story, Silko informs the reader about her family. She has two brothers and many cousins that she sees on a daily basis. She also speaks very highly about her grandparents. She informs the reader that they write and speak English with a great sense of eloquence. Silko also appreciates how her grandparents do not judge her within any realm of her life. Since she was a young girl, she has always looked up to them because they continue to have a positive aura that surrounds them.

As time progresses in the story, Silko indicates that she spends a great deal of time with her great grandmother as well. Their houses are right near each other and Silko takes the time to wake up before her family and wait on the back steps of her great grandmother’s house. When she finally emerges from her home, they go on long walks together in the early morning hours as they take in the serenity of the air and nature. They speak about all of the flowers and plants that they can name such as morning glories, cosmos and hollyhocks. Furthermore, they both take the time to water all of the plants in Silko’s great grandmother’s garden before the heat starts to emerge.

Silko continues to appreciate her great grandmother’s stories about her life growing up in the mountains. Her great grandmother tells Silko that she helped to tame lions and she did not go home until all of the firewood was collected and all of the plants were properly watered.

Towards the last section of the story, Silko describes the beauty behind Pueblo. She indicates that each person living in the same vicinity has a positive pizazz for life and they are all considered to be trustworthy people. She reiterates that people do not judge others due to their appearances. Instead, there are judgments that are made through the mind, body and soul. Typically, people can tell the type of person that another individual is simply by having a conversation with them. Furthermore, Silko says that she prefers the older Pueblo even more because she knows that there are limited instances of judgement compared to today’s society.

Ultimately, this story provides evidence of a free-spirited woman as she tells her story about life growing up with all of her family members. There are instances of hope and positivity which are captured through her brilliant words and phrases. In essence, the author helps to create a strong level of appreciation among the readers since they are now able to have a general understanding of the Pueblo culture and the meaning behind being a true Native American. Most importantly, Silkos embodies the idea of a strong woman, hence the term Yellow Woman which is reiterated throughout the story.