60 pages 2 hours read

Leslie Marmon Silko

Yellow Woman and a Beauty of Spirit

Nonfiction | Essay Collection | Adult | Published in 1993

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Symbols & Motifs

Stories

Stories are an integral aspect of these essays, both the ancient stories and the more recent familial and personal stories Silkoincludes. Silko argues that “Language is story” (50), implying that her essays are inextricable from the stories she tells in them. Silko also identifies individual words as stories within stories, believing that the words themselves are shaped by experience and identity.

Silko gleans this understanding of language from Pueblo culture at large. It is something that she learned growing up by listening to oral storytelling:“The oral narrative, or story, became the medium through which the complex of Pueblo knowledge and belief was maintained” (30). In this way, there is no difference between the ways in which Silko tells creation stories/myths and her retelling of personal experiences.

This similarity has the effect of likening human experience to that of the divine, as everything is understood within the sacred context of knowledge. In Pueblo communities, therefore, it would seem as though both knowledge and stories are considered sacred. The communal aspect of storytelling also substantiates the Pueblo belief in the interconnectivity of all things, as stories link everything to one another. Similarly, this belief in interconnectivity leads to a concept of communal responsibility, as everyone is responsible for ensuring the passing of knowledge between generations.

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