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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Themes

Interconnectivity

The central theme of Silko’s essays concern the interconnectivity of all things, both living and nonliving. In Pueblo culture, all things were believed to have been created by Thought Woman; therefore, all things are connected to one another. As everything is created by the goddess, there is a kind of divinity to this interconnectivity, which Silko describes in terms of scientific magic:“Fields of electromagnetic force affect light. Crowds of human beings massed together emanate actual electricity. Individual perceptions and behavior are altered” (182). Silko uses the science of energy to identify how human beings are connected to one another. In this way, she conflates Anglo science with Pueblo magic, suggesting that the interconnectivity of all beings is something greater than human: it is divine and therefore, beyond full human comprehension.

Part of the emphasis on interconnectedness stems from the harshness of the terrain the Pueblo inhabited; isolation meant death, so it was necessary for the Pueblo to believe in interconnectivity in order to ensure their survival. Silko uses the content and format of the essays in order to reinforce this interconnectivity:

This book of essays is structured like a spider’s web. It begins with the land; think of the land, the earth, as the center of a spider’s web.
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