Transcript of The Man to Send Rain Clouds
Born March 5, 1948 in Albuquerque, New Mexico to Leland Howard Marmon and Mary Virginia Leslie.
Mix: Laguna Pueblo Native American, Anglo American and Mexican American
Grew up on the edge of pueblo society: at the edge of the reservation, and not allowed to participate in various ritual or join many of the pueblo societies.
Educated by grandmother and aunts in the tradional stories of the Laguna people
Identified most strongly with the native part of her ancestry. Earned a BA in English from the University of New Mexico
She wrote "The Man to Send Rain Clouds" when she was still at school, it was published and earned her a National Endowment for the Humanities Discovery Grant.
Wrote novels, shortstories, essays, poetry, articles, and filmscripts
Primarily concerned with the relations between different cultures and between human beings and the natural world
One of key figures in the second wave of the Native American Renaissance
Awards: Grant from National Endowment for the Arts and poetry award from Chicago Review, both 1974; Pushcart Prize for poetry, 1977; John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation grant, 1981. Leslie Marmon Silko Analysis The main event in the story, the death of the old man, reveals a clashing between two very different cultures, their ways of life and death. The rituals of the Catholic church are blended with the tradition of the Pueblo practices.
The local people are very acceptive of death. The death of the old man was received with respect, but there was no sorrow or anguish. It is as if they were just saying goodbye to the old man. This attitude is demonstrated in the following quote:
"Then Leon painted with yellow under the old man's broad nose, and finally, when he had painted green across the chin, he smiled.
'Send us rain clouds, Grandfather.'"
On the other hand, the priest received the news in a more solemn manner. Though there was no expressed feelings, but the priest himself gives an impression of sadness:
"The priest walked away slowly. Leon watched him climb the hill, and when he had disappeared within the tall, thick walls,..." Then, the burial ritual of the natives are contrasted with that of the Catholic tradition, and the inevitable mixing of them.
The Indian burial is very simple and modest: the old man is dressed in casual, clean clothes, the gravediggers comes to dig up a place to lay his body, the rituals are performed by other old men, the family sprinkles corn meal around the body, and within the same day, the body is ready to be lowered into the grave.
The rituals suggested by the priest involves the Last Rites, and a funeral Mass at the very least.
The act of sprinkling Holy Water obviously has very different meanings to the two different perspectives. The priest does so for a somberer reason, the family wants it because they think he might get thristy.
Then the wishes of the family also revealed the culture of the native people:
"He felt good because it was finished, and he was happy about the sprinkling of the holy water; now the old man could send them big thunderclouds for sure." The Man To Send Rain Clouds Leslie Marmon Silko Story Summary Main Characters: Teofilo, Leon, Ken, Louise, Teresa, Father Paul
Teofilo was discovered dead under a tree.
Ken and Leon brought him back home. On the way home, they met Father Paul, but they did not tell him about the old man.
Back at home, they changed the old man's clothing, and wrapped him in a red blanket according to the Native's customs.
The old man was to be burried at sunset. People did not want him to be thristy in after-life, so Ken and Leon went to the local church to get Father Paul to administer Holy Water to the old man.
At first, Father Paul declined, he insisted on performing the whole burial ritual. Later, he changed his mind, and followed the young men to the grave.
The sun was disappearing at the horizon. Father Paul sprayed Holy Water over the blanket.
The old man is lowered into his grave. Short version An old man was found dead, he was buried according to the local customs. Literary Method The author expresses the tone of the story not through words or actions of the characters, but through the environment in which the character is acting. Normally, it is a clear blue sky, clusters of cloud flowing gently, above a grassy plain, puffs of wind breeze through the plain, a peaceful land. The curtains were heavy, and the light from within faintly penetrated But the tone is reversed when the story turns to the priest. the patio full of shadows the last warmth of the sun on their backs The sun was gone, and over on the highway the eastbound lane was full of headlights. The contrast between the two different perspectives is stark. It is not only cultural assimilation, but also technological invasion that the Laguna natives are facing, and they are straining to retain their traditions.
Culture instills a significant role in family life. Family traditions are often passed down from one generation to the next, and usually produce added complexity from outside influence over time. The original identity of the belief continues to be apparent, although more ideas have been added to the basic cultural belief. In Leslie Silko’s short story, “The Man to send Rain Clouds”, this predicament arises. Although a constant influence of Catholic beliefs are apparent in the Pueblo people’s society, Leon and his family still display their Native American identity through their actions present throughout the story.
Silko explains that her people “were well informed about [culture],” and that “old traditions were dying out” (Silko, “Language” 772). The local Catholic Church’s minister, Father Paul, attempts to incorporate the Church’s teaching into the Laguna’s way of life. He shows great concern for Leon and his family “miss[ing] [Mass] last Sunday,” (Silko, “Man” 50), and requests the family to attend the following weekend. Father Paul successfully influences Leon’s sister, Louise. When she finds out about her grandfather’s death, she suggests incorporating the ritual of pouring holy water on his gravesite “so he won’t be thirsty” (Silko, “Man” 50).
Although Catholic interference tries to influence the Native Pueblo culture, Leon constantly attempts to retain his Native identity. When Leon and Ken discover their Grandfather dead in the arroyo, they immediately perform the Native Pueblo customs. The customs included the painting of their grandfather’s face, tying a feather to his hair, wrapping him in a red blanket, and tossing cornmeal into the wind. By performing these rituals, they “[keep] the family … and clan together” (Silko, “Language” 766), showing the great importance they hold upon their cultural beliefs. When transferring grandfather Teofilo back into town, Leon and Ken deceivingly tell Father Paul that “[Teofilo] won’t [be herding sheep] any more now,” (Silko, “Man” 50), in an attempt to hide their grandfather’s death to escape the Catholic rituals being forced upon him.
Even though Leon attempts to keep his Native identity, he eventually acclimates to his Catholic surroundings. He asks Father Paul to incorporate the holy water ritual in conjunction with the Native American burial. Leon exclaims that he “is happy [about] the sprinkling of the holy water,” because now his grandfather could “send them big thunderclouds,” (Silko, “Man” 52), just as he has wished earlier in the story. During the process of the Catholic ritual, even Father Paul “is reminded of something,” (Silko, “Man” 52), in regards to a connection between the two cultures beliefs. The pouring of the holy water displays a metaphor. The metaphor demonstrates, that if one finds similarities between different cultures, the ability to accept the idea into your own way of thinking, becomes much easier.
When cultures collide, their beliefs hold a tendency to influence one another. However, the original beliefs and values must be kept noticeable, or else the origins of the culture may die out. Silko’s explanation “[Cultures], bring us together, despite great distances between [them],” (Silko, “Language” 772), shows that the different beliefs people withhold brings us together. Although the Church attempts to influence Leon’s family, and Leon tries to keep the identity of his beliefs, they eventually concede to form what may be known as a new form of Laguna culture.