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Yellow Woman and a Beauty of the Spirit Essay


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Yellow Woman and a Beauty of the Spirit, By Leslie Silko

Que. 1 The significance of Grandma A’mooh in Silko’s life

Grandma A`mooh used to wake up at dawn, and because Silko used to spend much time with this old woman, she learnt to be waking up early in her life. For example, Silko adapted waking early even before her parents and her sisters, and she always loved the early morning atmosphere, which was characterized by cool air. As the sages had put it that the early bird catches the worm, this tendency of waking up early could have been a contributing factor to Silko`s educational achievements, which made her to qualify and join college. The grandmother also taught Silko to help the elderly, disabled and the representatives of the poor levels of society depending on her capabilities. This is evident by the way she used to allow Silko do some duties for her such as fetching firewood and watering plants (Silko Pp. 10-15).

Consecutively, the way grandma A`mooh used to fetch firewood and water her plants at the age of eighty-five had a significance in Silko`s life. Silko learnt to be industrious in her daily activities and to be always proud of her strength and capabilities. For example, Grandma A`mooh used to let Silko carry an armload of firewood and coal bucket because they were within her capability, but the old woman could not let her struggle carrying an ax. Grandma A`mooh also introduced the child to the religious world through narrating biblical stories to her. In addition, when Silko`s older sisters would visit the old woman, the latter taught her listening skills and asking questions where necessary (Silko Pp. 10-15). These listening skills also contributed to her educational achievements.

In addition, grandma A`mooh accepted and loved Silko as a universal human being just like her. She never discriminated Silko due to her physical appearance. Her virtue made Silko grow as someone who loved and treated all human beings without discrimination. For example, when the white tourists visited her school and started taking photos of her black classmates, she was amazed to see them discriminating her (Silko Pp. 10-15). She could not even contemplate why the tourists were excluding her in their photos.

Ways in which Grandma A’mooh represents the old-time people

Grandma A’mooh represented the old-time people in numerous ways. First, she never compared her dark complexion with the white complexion of Silko. Old-time people never concerned about the physical appearances of individuals since all of them came from the same Mother Creators (The four sisters who created the universe). They considered all human beings as brothers and sisters who belonged to the same clan. However, they were concerned with the individuals` characters such as their association with others and the environment. They also considered the act of comparing living things with other living things as inhuman. Consecutively, the way the woman treated the environment through watering plants, shows how she values it, and this was a feature of old-time people (Silko Pp. 10-15).

Secondly, despite the old age of this woman, she used to carry out all sorts of work including splitting firewood and irrigating plants. In the Pueblo society, there was no job classifications based on gender or age. For example, men could weave fine textiles, make baskets and take care of kids while women could build and plaster houses. All Pueblo residents were supposed to work in any field depending on individual`s strength and stamina (Silko Pp. 10-15).

In addition, Grandma A`mooh acted as a teacher and a role model to her granddaughter Silko. She taught Silko to treat all individuals equally, to carry out all sorts of work that she could, and to honor environmental aspects such as plants. Similarly, the old-time people had the role of sensitizing their young generation to honor the environment in order to prevent punishments from the Women Creators. For example, Silko outlines how the old folks used to warn kids from unnecessary disturbance of the earth, in order to maintain harmony among Pueblo residents (Silko Pp. 10-15). These old-time people acted as the representatives of Mother Creators, who were the creators of Pueblo society. For example, the Mother Creators authorized people (Pueblo residents) should maintain a good relationship with plants, animals, water, rocks among others. Moreover, in this narrative, the old-people represents the old generations of the native America.

Que. 2 The overriding theme in this narrative

It is evident that the theme of identity dominates in this narrative. Identity is the unique features that distinguish an individual, society or a nation from others. These features can be body complexion, character, language, culture, religion, age among others (Ratele & Duncan Pp. 148-150). In this narrative, Silko depicts numerous characteristics that the Pueblo society possessed before the influx of Puritans. For example, she outlines that in Pueblo society, the beauty of an individual was being manifested by the character of the individual in terms of his or her interaction with others and the environment.

Consecutively, she reveals that her physical appearance was different compared to those of her grandmother and her classmates. She had a white complexion while the others had a black one. This identity made Silko appear unique compared to her close associates. In addition, Silko identifies Kochininako as a yellow woman due to her heroic acts of saving Pueblo society at the time of perils (Silko Pp. 10-15). For example, Kochininako saved this society from the dangers of famine by falling in love with a buffalo man, who later feeds Pueblo society with buffalo meat.

How the theme of identity influences the play out of this narrative

The theme of identity helps the author to depict how the original culture of Pueblo society has changed due to the influx of external cultures. For example, she reveals that during the old generation, it was rare for human beings to make comparisons with others to the extent of hurting one`s feelings. However, this vice is evident in the contemporary generation. For example, the white tourists who visited hurt Silko when they discriminated her due to her complexion. Moreover, Silko narrates how the arrival of Christian missionaries changed the sexual identity of Pueblo society in terms of dressing code, marriage and work. For example, initially, men could wear dresses of women, work together with them, and marriage was meant to promote teamwork and social relationships. However, after the arrival of these missionaries, work was categorized, and marriage became for sexual excitement (Silko Pp. 10-15).

Consecutively, the theme of identity helps this narrative to show the differences between the old world and the contemporary one. For example, in the old world, social status, racism, plastic surgery and birthday celebrations never existed (Silko Pp. 10-15).


Que. 3 The significance of the Thought woman

The Thought Woman is stipulated as the creator of the universe. She first thought of her three sisters who then came to being. She then collaborated with these three sisters (Mother Creators) in order to bring both living and non-livings into existence. That is; she enabled the existence of people, earth, plants, animals, spirits, and ocean among others (Silko & Melody P. 6). Thus through her work of creation, Pueblo society was founded. Moreover, she stipulated that all the things she created were interrelated, and this relationship should be maintained. This interrelationship between living and non-living things, therefore, formed the code of conduct of the Pueblo residents. For example, the environment contained fruits, water, soil, animals, air and other things which are necessary for human survival. In return, human beings have to show their relationship with the environment. For example, they used to dance wearing masks of various animals such as buffalo and deer. In addition, human beings have the obligation of taking care of the environment, failure to which drought and desertification would result, and in the long run they starve to death.

Moreover, the Thought woman was the controller of this universe and thus, she could bestow catastrophes or blessings depending on the interrelationship of both living and non-living things. For example, Silko explains how the old-time people warned the young generation from harming flies, frogs and toads. This was because there was a time Pueblo Residents had irritated the Creator by failing to honor the Mother corn altar and instead turned into sorcery and magic. Then the Mother Creator decided to punish them through withholding rain from falling, causing great starvation in Pueblo Society. The society reconciled but lacked means of delivering their reconciliation message to the Creator. Fortunately, they were saved by a green bottle fly that delivered their message to the Creator, who had vanished to the fourth world (Silko Pp. 10-15).

How the thought woman`s story relates to other elements in Silko’s story

The works of creation of this thought woman always motivated both men and women in the pueblo society to work with courage and strength in all types of work without categorizing them. For example, men could take care of kids, weave fine textiles and make baskets while women could build houses and go in war fields without being limited by their sexuality. The author outlines that the thought woman`s work of creation made all women to live without stigma of being female (Silko Pp. 10-15). Men also could wear clothes of women in order to have a female figure, which was attributed to being of great strength and courage.

The thought woman also made Pueblo residents to always appreciate a new life in the society. Silko depicts that just the same way the thought woman created the universe; pregnancies (including those before marriage) were always being considered precious and belonged to the mother and her clan. In addition, the different creations of the thought woman made Pueblo residents to accept and honor individuals who were being born with disabilities since the latter also had his or her importance in the that society. In most cases, these disabled individuals possessed powers from the thought woman, which enabled them to mediate the society with the spiritual world. For example, Navajo had a hunchback, which prevented him from walking upright, but was a great medicine man who used to treat even the dangerous conditions (Silko Pp. 10-15).

Que.4 Reasons why this narrative is titled yellow woman and the beauty of the spirit

In Pueblo society, the beauty of women was being defined by their characters with reference to their association with one another and the environment as opposed to their physical appearances. Because all women in this society were hard working and maintained a good relationship with plants and animals, they were all beautiful. This beauty was made possible by their spirited strength and courage that enabled them to perform various sorts of work, and hence the name beautiful spirit. However, among all these women, there were some who would dare go beyond the traditional boundary of ordinary behavior in order to save their families, clan or the entire society (Silko Pp. 10-15). Their actions made them appear as heroes in the society. These sorts of women were being referred as yellow women since they appeared to have more beautiful spirits, thus the title yellow women and beauty spirit.

How yellow woman figure in this narrative

Various women in this narrative are depicted as yellow women at numerous instances. For example, the thought woman made Pueblo universe to being through his extraordinary work of creation. She thought of the earth; people, plants, spirits, oceans, rocks among others and they all came into existence. All women in Pueblo society are also portrayed the figure of yellow woman. They used to perform all sorts of work without being limited by their gender aspect. For example, grandma A`mooh used to irrigate crops and split firewood despite her old age (Silko Pp. 10-15). The other women could build houses and go to war just like their men counterparts.

Some men, especially those who participated in Kiva ceremonies also figured the characteristic of yellow woman. They used to wear women clothes in order to pay possessed with female energized spirit. The great medicine man, Navajo, depicts the yellow woman figure. He was disabled, but he could treat various cases of disease conditions. The green bottle fly managed to deliver reconciliation message to the Mother Creator, who had disappeared into the fourth world, a world of spirit where Pueblo residents could not have managed to reach. The acts of this fly saved the society from drought and famine, which had greatly starved the residents (Silko Pp. 10-15).

Kochininako, also portrayed the qualities of a yellow woman, through sacrificing to leave her husband and children and walk long distance searching for fresh water that quench her family. In the spring, she encountered a buffalo man whom she felt in love with. Their relationship made the buffalo man to feed Pueblo society with buffalo meat, saving them from the great danger of drought and famine. In another story, Kochininako was taken by Ka’tsinas (spirit) for ten months and later returned to Pueblo with twin baby boys who grew and become heroes. Silko also managed to kill a mule deer buck when she was eight-years-old (Silko Pp. 10-15).

Work cited

Silko, Leslie M, Yellow Woman and a Beauty of the Spirit, First published in Los Angeles Times Sunday magazine on December 29, 1994.

Silko, Leslie M, and Melody Graulich. Yellow Woman. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers Univ. Pr, 1993. Print

Ratele, K, and N Duncan. Social Psychology: Identities and Relationships. Cape Town: JUTA, 2003. Print.