The story is about an occurrence that Silko heard in Laguna which was her hometown in Mexico: some aged man had been found lifeless within some sheep camp and had been awarded a conventional Indian burial. The Catholic priest at the locality had decanted the aspect that he hadn’t been duly consulted to hold a funeral service. The story by Silko discovers how the Indians integrated Catholic rites with conventional Indian rites in times of funeral services. The pressure of keeping on to conventional Pueblo procedures as well as co-opting of external forces in this respect the Catholic Church is some of Silko’s continuous interests which are evident in most of her stories.
The story highlights several instances of different types of conflicts the article only focuses on society vs. Mankind and Mankind vs. society. The central conflict within the story is that of men against the society that they reside in. It is rather a conflict of mankind against society. It is a mutual conflict in several pieces of literature since the society if, usually, perceived as a limiting obstacle as opposed to civilizing culture. What defines this conflict is that the main character is challenged by the same society that they reside in since the customs and values of the society are somehow not within the moral system of conviction or non-examined character of the characters. A good example of this is exemplified in the priest’s complete agitation regarding the use of Catholic Holy water within some Indian Pueblo society religious funeral service.
It is also evident in the story that mankind resents society’s nature. It showcases Mankind’s greed and desire against the effects and pressure from nature. An instance of this is highlighted in relation to the death of Teofilo and his new role and responsibility as the rain bringer. Another instance is the Pueblos being forced to acclimatize to their way of life so as to be inculcated within the society. They were also compelled to revolutionize their ways of operating such as the pickup truck. The same group had also been taken advantage by persons disagreeing with specific matters of their culture, like the way the priest was so agitated regarding how the funeral and how the last rites were conducted. The priest, in this case, is upset on the fact that religious practices were being blended with traditional practices which according to him should not happen, He clearly advocates for the adoption of religious practices and transitions from traditional cultural practices.
An instance of such is when the priest was angry at Leon regarding the way he didn’t tell him regarding the death of Teofilo, the way the deceased did not have last rites held, and the way no funeral service was held in respect to the deceased. Within the first chapter, the audiences find out that Ken and Leon are placing the sheep away when they find the body of Teofilo lifeless. The moment they found out this, the used a red blanket to wrap his body up, painted some yellow component under his nose, his cheekbones blue, white streak on his face, tied some feathers to his hair, and placed some pieces of pollen and cornmeal to his body. All of this was in the hope that he would send them some rain clouds.
Finally, they carry his body to the pickup truck and rode towards the house. On their way to the house, they met the Father inquiring about the whereabouts of Teofilo which they lied to him that he was indeed well and would not be working at the camp anymore alone. At the burial ceremony, the body was again spread with cornmeal and mourners left taking with them their medicine bags and candles. When Leon went to request the priest to sprinkle Holy water on the body, the Priest becomes silent and instead asks him why he kept Teofilo’s death a secret from him. At this point, it is clear that the priest and Leon are in conflict with regard to how the matters surrounding the death of Teofilo were conducted, revealing that the common society dissented Christian Values and burial procedures.
It is obvious that indeed there is a conflict between religious practices in this case Catholicism and societal practices. The people are quick to perform rituals that to them will bring rain clouds as opposed to the fate of the deceased. It is common knowledge that religious practices dictate that the power of bringing rain and rain clouds is fully vested in God the creator but then, the society chooses to stick to its own beliefs.
The conflict highlighted in the story reflects what happens in some of our present-day societies. The types of conflict, as well as its details to some extent, showcases what was the case in most societies before civilization. The story thus serves to educate the readers regarding certain aspects that happen within our society that in some cases are viewed as normal while in essence is a source of conflict. Within all these conflicts, the conflicting parties, in the end, find some way mutually to solve the issues that bring out the conflict through dialogues.