Characterization and Symbolism in "Yellow Woman"

1131 words 5 pages
Characterization and Symbolism in “Yellow Woman” In the short story “Yellow Woman”, Leslie Marmon Silko uses characterization and symbolism to address personal and cultural identity. After reading “Yellow Woman”, a sense of mystery is imposed on the reader. Much of the story centers on the identity of the two main characters with issues of duty and desires, social obligations, and the human and spiritual worlds. Taking place in 1970’s New Mexico, the author reveals the aesthetic beauty of a Native American homeland and culture through detail and color. The story begins with an ambiguous protagonist/narrator identified as Yellow Woman who is trapped between a dreamlike world and reality. Her naivety is revealed at the start when …show more content…
Yellow Woman says, “I saw the leaves and wanted to go back to him – to kiss him and to touch him. . .” (Silko 768). Silko uses detailed descriptions on setting and mood. The use of color is used strongly throughout the story. Colors are a huge symbol that addresses identity. The color red symbolizes passion, romance, affection, and life. Yellow Woman says, “[I] looked at him beside me, rolled in the red blanket. . .” (Silko 762). The red blanket at the beginning of the story is said after Silva and Yellow Woman make love, which seems to symbolize their romance and intimacy. The red mesas that are seen across the plains before the pueblos symbolize life and reality. While Yellow Woman has left home, she can still see visions of it and even states that she can imagine it over the valley: “I tried to look beyond the pale red mesas to the pueblo. I knew it was there, even if I could not see it . . . (Silko 762). Many of the details paint a picture of a traditional Native American homeland, very peaceful and abstract. The reader can naturally assume that the story takes place during the 1800’s when Natives roamed the lands, but the actual time phase is revealed towards the end when the narrator mentions jets and Jell-O: “I looked up at the sky, pale blue and full of thin clouds and fading vapor trails left by jets” (Silko 768). The author creates an older world intertwined with a modern


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