'Yellow Woman': Leslie Marmon Silko

Overview

 In the past twenty-five years many Native American writers have retold the traditional stories of powerful mythological women: Corn Woman, Changing Woman, Serpent Woman, and Thought Woman, who with her sisters created all life by thinking it into being.  Within and in response to these evolving traditions, Leslie Marmon Silko takes from her own tradition, the Keres of Laguna, the Yellow Woman.  Yellow Woman stories, always female-centered and always from the Yellow Woman's point of view, portray a figure who is adventurous, ...

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Overview

 In the past twenty-five years many Native American writers have retold the traditional stories of powerful mythological women: Corn Woman, Changing Woman, Serpent Woman, and Thought Woman, who with her sisters created all life by thinking it into being.  Within and in response to these evolving traditions, Leslie Marmon Silko takes from her own tradition, the Keres of Laguna, the Yellow Woman.  Yellow Woman stories, always female-centered and always from the Yellow Woman's point of view, portray a figure who is adventurous, strong, and often alienated from her own people.  She is the spirit of woman.  Ambiguous and unsettling, Silko's "Yellow Woman" explores one woman's desires and changes--her need to open herself to a richer sensuality.  Walking away from her everyday identity as daughter, wife and mother, she takes possession of transgressive feelings and desires by recognizing them in the stories she has heard, by blurring the boundaries between herself and the Yellow Woman of myth. 

Silko's decision to tell the story from the narrator's point of view is traditional, but her use of first person narration and the story's much raised ambiguity brilliantly reinforce her themes.  Like traditional yellow women, the narrator is unnamed.  By choosing not to reveal her name, she claims the role of Yellow Woman, and Yellow Woman's story is the one Silko clearly claims as her own. The essays in this collection compare Silko's many retellings of Yellow Woman stories from a variety of angles, looking at crucial themes like storytelling, cultural inheritances, memory, continuity, identity, interconnectedness, ritual, and tradition.

This casebook includes an introduction by the editor, a chronology, an authoritative text of the story itself, critical essays, and a bibliography for further reading in both primary and secondary sources.  Contributors include Kim Barnes, A. LaVonne Ruoff, Paula Gunn Allen, Patricia Clark Smith, Bernard A. Hirsch, Arnold Krupat, Linda Danielson, and Patricia Jones.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813520056
  • Publisher: Rutgers University Press
  • Publication date: 8/1/1993
  • Series: Women Writers: Texts and Contexts Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 246
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.55 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction: Remember the Stories 3
Chronology 27
Yellow Woman 31
Background to the Story: A Leslie Marmon Silko Interview 47
Critical Essays
Ritual and Renewal: Keres Traditions in Leslie Silko's "Yellow Woman" 69
Kochinnenako in Academe: Three Approaches to Interpreting a Keres Indian Tale 83
Whirlwind Man Steals Yellow Woman 113
Earthy Relations, Carnal Knowledge: Southwestern American Indian Women Writers and Landscape 115
"The Telling Which Continues": Oral Tradition and the Written Word in Leslie Marmon Silko's Storyteller 151
The Dialogic of Silko's Storyteller 185
The Storytellers in Storyteller 201
The Web of Meaning: Naming the Absent Mother in Storyteller 213
Selected Bibliography 233
Permissions 235
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