Storytelling By Silko


Storytelling By Silko Essay, Research Paper

Leslie Marmon Silko is a Laguna Pueblo Indian who has written many novels and

poems in her lifetime. One of these poems, "Storytelling," is very

interesting to me. This poem excites me because it tells of the impact that

storytelling has on people in Laguna culture. I will analyze and explore many

parts of this poem. One of these subjects is theme. The theme of

"Storytelling" is actually the art of storytelling. Another aspect of

the poem I will look at is tension. There is a specific tension between the

husband and the wife in this poem. Next, I will explore how imagery helped Silko

strengthen her writing. Then, I will look at how the form of

"Storytelling" is different from that of other poems. Finally, I will

compare "Storytelling" to another poem, written by Luci Tapahonso

entitled, "Blue Horses Rush In." All these aspects put together will

enable me to do a complete textual analysis of "Storytelling." Larson

2 To start, I will begin with the theme of "Storytelling." The theme

of the poem is the art of storytelling, hence the name. At the end of the poem

the author says, "My husband left after he heard the story and moved back

in with his mother. It was my fault and I don?t blame him either"(Silko

424). As the reader, you think that the woman is feeling bad about lying to her

husband and she doesn?t blame him for leaving her because she has sinned. Then

the next line reads, "I could have told the story better than I

did"(Silko 424). This surprises the reader because the ending’s not

expected. This shows that the woman isn?t really feeling bad about what she

did, or what happened; she only wishes that she could have told a better story

so her husband would stay with her. These quotes prove the theme of the poem;

that storytelling is very important in the Laguna culture. It is what the people

pride themselves on and the woman in the poem could have done a better job.

Earlier on in the poem the husband says, "You better have a damn good

story"(Silko 423). It is almost as if the husband is expecting a better

story than what he receives, so not satisfied with the lines his wife feeds him,

he leaves. From these lines it is obvious that the stories told, and how the

people tell them is the theme of the poem "Storytelling". This is not

only a theme in the poem, but I Larson 3 believe that it also represents a very

prominent theme in the Laguna culture. Other themes in the poem are adultery and

lying, but these also portray the main tensions in the poem in addition to

themes. The tension is between the husband and the wife. A mysterious being

shows up and kidnaps the wife. When she returns she tries to tell her husband

what happened in terms that he would understand. The husband, now very upset,

believes that his wife committed adultery. The tension starts when the husband

says, "You better have a damn good story about where you have been for the

past ten months and how you explain these twin baby boys"(Silko 423). You

can tell from this quote that the husband is not happy and wants an explanation;

and it better be a good one. The wife retaliates by saying, "No! That

gossip isn?t true"(Silko 423). The wife feels that she needs to defend

herself against the false accusations that her husband made. The rest of the

poem the wife tells her story in order to try to persuade her husband of the

truth. She wants to resolve the tension. Her attempts to persuade her husband

are unsuccessful. So the tension is never really resolved because the husband

leaves. Therefore, there is probably still tension surrounding the subject.

Larson 4 There are many images in "Storytelling" that help set the

scene and develop a mood. A couple images that help to set the scene are,

"?the sun came over the long red mesa"(Silko 422) and, "She

looked into the shallow clear water"(Silko 423). This gives an image of how

mystical and magical the scene was when the "Buffalo Man" came to get

the woman in the story. This image gives the reader the impression that this is

a mysterious event. The images are also calm and soothing which relay those

feelings over to the reader. This way the reader can understand what the woman

in the poem is feeling at the time. However, I don?t think she feels that way

for too long. Another image produced later on in the poem sets up a very

different scene, "?in a red `56 Ford and the F.B.I. and state police hot

on their trail of wine bottles and size 42 panties hanging in the bushes and

trees all along the road"(Silko 423). This image is a very graphic one. The

wife is using this picture in her story to try to explain to her husband what

she went through. When you picture men driving in a `56 Ford with police chasing

them with wine bottles all over, it is not a great image. You picture dirty,

menacing guys, probably not guys that you would enjoy being with. The wife is

trying to get across the point to her husband that this was not a good

experience. As you can see, images used in "Storytelling" portray

certain types of moods and set explicit scenes. Larson 5 The form of the poem

adds to the imagery. The form is not like that of a normal poem. Instead,

paragraphs divide the text like a story. The lines break up the sentences into

what appears to be fragments. I think that this enables the writer to emphasize

certain words. For example, "left"(Silko 424) is in a line of it?s

own. This really draws attention to the word. It seems much harsher than,

"My husband left.."(Silko 424), all in the same line. The author of

"Storytelling" really used form to her advantage to make the story

more interesting. The form of this poem is very different compared to other

poems; it is almost more like a story. On the other hand, it has many

similarities to other poems. "Storytelling" is like the poem by Luci

Tapahonso, "Blue Horses Rush In." They both tell stories that are now

very important to the culture that they originated in. "Blue Horses Rush

In" is of Navajo origin and "Storytelling" is from the Laguna

Pueblo culture. Both started out a long time ago and are now being passed down

from generation to generation. They also both tell of the importance of

storytelling in their cultures. The form of both the poems differs from that of

a normal poem. Both tell a story in little paragraphs with sentences breaking

off mid-line. Both of the poems deal with occasions in peoples everyday lives.

This is why I think that of all the poems that I have read in this chapter,

"Storytelling" and "Blue Horses Rush In" are most alike.

Larson 6 "Storytelling" is a unique poem that has a lot of meaning.

This is why I chose to analyze it. I have analyzed the main aspects of the poem.

I looked in-depth at the theme of the poem, which was the art of storytelling.

Then I went over the tension between the two players in the poem. Next, I

explained how imagery played a big part in Silko?s writing. Finally, I

explored the form of the poem and compared it to the poem, "Blue Horses

Rush In." Looking this closely at a poem helps to understand it more and it

gives insight to other works of literature that one might read along the way.

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