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Ceremony

Quotes

Important Quotations Explained

Quotes Important Quotations Explained

Quote 1

Jungle rain had no beginning or end; it grew like foliage from the sky, branching and arching to the earth, sometimes in solid thickets entangling the islands, and, other times, in tendrils of blue mist curling out of coastal clouds. The jungle breathed an eternal green that fevered men until they dripped sweat the way rubbery jungle leaves dripped the monsoon rain. It was there that Tayo began to understand what Josiah had said. Nothing was all good or all bad either; it all depended.

One of the most important lessons Tayo learns in the course of the novel is that everything has both its positive and its negative aspects. This moment of realization comes early in the novel, as Tayo, newly returned to the reservation, remembers the most traumatic moments of his service in World War II, which include Rocky's death, at least in part from gangrene caused by the effect of the wet conditions on his wounds. Although this lesson is stated within the first fifteen pages of the story, its wording is key. Tayo does not understand the lesson; he only begins to understand it. It will take the rest of the novel for Tayo to come to a full comprehension of the intricate interrelations of all things. Although the message is simple, almost cliché, it cannot be taken lightly nor learned easily. Not only can the rain, so desperately prayed for on the desert reservation, be as bad as it is good, so also can whites, so detrimental to the Native American customs, also be an integral element in the ceremony that cures Tayo and his community. Although Josiah dies before Tayo returns from the Philippines, his teachings are among the most important in Tayo's life. As a child, Josiah was Tayo's male role model. Josiah initiated Tayo into Native American cosmology and also into the need to adapt to the ever-changing world, with the help of simple age-old lessons such as this one.