Ceremony

Summary

Section 9

Summary Section 9

Analysis

Just as Fly and Hummingbird come to a point where they are able to shift from searching for what they need to bringing something back to its right place, Tayo recognizes that he has found the signs of which Betonie told him. He then begins the process of bringing the cattle and himself back to his people. Here, the woman is symbolically analogous () to Caterpillar. Like Caterpillar who knows how to find the tobacco Fly and Hummingbird need, the woman finds and prepares sacred herbs.

Now that he is on the path of the ceremony and is willing to accept help, people and animals show up to help him on a regular basis. After the woman has fed him, the mountain lion shows him the way to the cattle, the snow covers his tracks, and the hunter leads him back down the mountain. Like the woman who is symbolic of all women and all female power through her lack of name, the hunter is symbolic of all Native American men and Native American masculinity, as he is only referred to as "the hunter" and speaks so many languages and embodies so many physical types that Tayo cannot tell from what tribe he is. In addition, the two acquire an even more magical or symbolic quality as Tayo perceives that they are husband and wife, and yet the hunter seems to know about the night Tayo and the woman have spent together and not mind. Even when the woman tells Tayo her name, her specification that it is not her real name leaves her identity vaguely mystical.

The contrast between Tayo's reaction to the mountain lion and the patrolmen's reaction to it is striking. Tayo honors the mountain lion and takes only what it offer him, while the patrol men set out to hunt and kill it not because they desperately need it to survive, but for the approval it will gain them in the eyes of their boss and the townspeople. For the patrol men, Tayo and the mountain lion are almost the same: both are prey for them to hunt down and bring back to their boss. They only choose the mountain lion over Tayo because the mountain lion is more rare.

Finding the cattle and returning with them allows Tayo to finally completely return home. As he carries out Josiah's plans, he becomes a full member of his family for the first time in his life. With a sense of belonging, a sense of purpose, and an understanding of the ways in which everything in the world is interrelated and possesses both negative and positive elements, he is cured. He has also learned to trust his dreams as providing him with signs, instead of fearing them as intruding on his life. And in that way he is able to straighten out the confusion he feels between dreams and reality, not by separating them more, but by accepting their connections. The rain, however, has not yet returned to the land, and the mystery of the woman has not yet been solved, so the ceremony, and the story, must continue.