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Literature Study GuidesCeremonySection 9 Summer With Tseh Summary

Ceremony | Study Guide

Leslie Marmon Silko

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Ceremony | Section 9 (Summer With Ts'eh) | Summary



Robert and Tayo return to pick up the cattle. Ts'eh's hut is empty, but the cattle have clearly been well cared for. Back home, Tayo dedicates himself to helping around the farm but feels lonely, longing for Ts'eh. Over time he realizes he has fallen in love with her. When Pinkie leaves the ranch to seek adventure in Gallup, Tayo moves onto the ranch to take over his duties. Before he leaves, Auntie warns him to stay away from the other veterans, and Grandmother notes that it's about time he speak to Ku'oosh again. Surrounded by nature, Tayo realizes his nightmares after the war were caused by his experiences of loss. Over time he has come to realize that nothing is ever truly lost: "All was retained between the sky and the earth, and within himself." Tayo feels totally connected to the natural world around him, to his memories of the past, and to the loved ones he lost. Despite his isolation on the ranch, he feels complete. As he acknowledges this, he spots Ts'eh in the distance. She is camping near the spring, gathering plants and roots, which she takes care to teach Tayo about. He spends the summer with her, making love and exploring the surrounding landscape. She collects all her plants except one, which she asks Tayo to harvest in case she must leave before it's ready. Tayo watches the cattle breed with the bull he borrowed from Romero, wondering if Josiah's vision of the perfect cattle will become reality.

At the end of the summer, Robert returns and suggests that Tayo come home. Emo has been spreading rumors about him being crazy, and people on the reservation feel nervous. Tayo rejects the idea but feels sick when Robert suggests the army may send doctors to take him back against his will. Later, he and Ts'eh sit by the fire and try to plot out the end of his ceremony. Tayo realizes he must share his experiences with the elders so the story no longer belongs just to him, but to his entire community. He knows the doctors and Emo are coming, so he doesn't have much time. He prepares to say goodbye to Ts'eh, who weeps. The next day Ts'eh says goodbye, and shortly after, Tayo sees the doctors' jeeps approaching the ranch. He moves from hiding place to hiding place, avoiding capture, and the doctors soon give up. As he runs and hides from Emo, whom he assumes must still be stalking him, Tayo runs into Harley and Leroy. At first unsure whether to trust them, Tayo decides they have been friends for too long for him not to trust them. Harley and Leroy drive drunkenly through the woods, drinking beer and reminiscing about enlisting. Tayo drinks heavily and passes out. When he comes to, he is alone in the truck. As he searches for Harley and Leroy, he hears their hushed whispering and realizes they have turned against him. The only reason he's alive is because they were too drunk to find their way back to Emo. Quickly, Tayo rushes back to the truck and tears out a wire in the engine. He pockets a screwdriver and sprints back into the woods.


Tayo's decision to leave the ranch and live in the wild, mirroring Betonie's decision to live atop the mountain rather than on the reservation, supports Tayo's transition back to the natural world. He lived in isolation his entire life, but now he feels fulfilled. Rather than being surrounded by the dead, lifeless pursuits of white culture, such as big buildings, neon signs, and glass Coke bottles, Tayo lives surrounded by pulsating life: "As far as he could see, in all directions, the world was alive." Tayo becomes like the ex-rodeo bull borrowed to breed with Josiah's cattle, injured by white culture but welcomed by the herd.

Ts'eh's arrival reconfirms Tayo's love, both for her and for his culture. They live in perfect respect and harmony, working together to collect what they need, but respecting the natural world by never taking too much. Ts'eh's collection represents each element of the natural world, but she needs one more plant from Tayo before her work is complete. This symbolizes Tayo's part in the ceremony of transition. Together, Tayo and Ts'eh care for the land and are able to live happily in it. The ease of their daily routine again highlights the value of living in harmony, whereas all other references to romantic relationships, such as with white women during the war and with Helen Jean, are marked with competition and pain. Just as the bull and cattle live peacefully together, so do Tayo and Ts'eh, representing the possibility for different cultures to coincide peacefully.

White culture has so dominated the rest of the world that Tayo's return to nature seems crazy. Even Auntie, who has never wanted Tayo around, doesn't trust that Tayo's change is a result of being healed. Emo, who has completely disconnected from the living, natural world, spreads enough rumors about Tayo's sanity that army doctors threaten to bring Tayo back to the hospital if he doesn't return home. The divide between Tayo and the rest of the world is so stark, even he doesn't see the division. Just as before, he trusts Harley and Leroy to help him. He considers them friends and doesn't realize that, like Emo, they have given in to the destruction of white culture and have turned against him.

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