Leslie Marmon Silko Lullaby Critical Essays On Kate

“Lullaby” first appeared in Storyteller (1981), a book in which Silko interweaves autobiographical reminiscences, short stories, poetry, photographs of her family (taken by her father) and traditional songs. The book as a whole is concerned with the oral tradition of storytelling in Native American culture. Through a variety of formats, Silko attempts to reproduce the effect of oral storytelling in a written English form. She is also concerned with the transformative power of storytelling in the lives of her characters and the role of storytelling in maintaining cultural traditions and intergenerational ties, particularly in a matrilineal line from grandmother to granddaughter. Because of this focus, the physical surroundings of the action of “Lullaby” are not central to its narrative. The story begins with Ayah, an old Native American woman, leaning against a tree near a stream, reminiscing about some of the most tragic events of her life, as well as about the role of her grandmother in some of the most happy events of her life: “She was an old woman now, and her life had become memories.” She recalls watching her mother weaving outside on a big loom, while her grandmother spun wool into yarn. She remembers her mother and the old woman who helped her give birth to her first child, Jimmie. Yet she also recalls the time the white man came to her door to announce that Jimmie had died in a helicopter crash in the war. Because Ayah could not speak English, her husband, Chato, had to translate the tragic news to her. As Ayah reminisces about her life, including the loss of her children, the eventual rift between her husband and herself, and other tragic losses, the narrative slowly catches up to the present. In recent years, Ayah and Chato have begun receiving federal assistance checks in order to survive-Chato would immediately cash the check and go spend it at the bar. In the present tense of the story, Ayah goes there to look for him. When she does not find him there, she goes out in the snow to search for him, and comes upon him walking toward home. When they stop to rest, he lies down in the snow, and she realizes that he is dying. She tucks a blanket around him and begins to sing a lullaby her grandmother had sung when she was little: “And she sang the only song she knew how to sing for babies. She could not remember if she had ever sung it to her children, but she knew that her grandmother had sung it and her mother had sung it.”

Feminist Themes in Silko's Yellow Woman and Choplin's Story of an Hour

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Comparing Feminist Themes in Silko's Yellow Woman and Choplin's Story of an Hour


Yellow Woman and the story of an hour by Kate Choplin have some feminist themes in common. Silko and Mrs. Mallard exhibited Characteristics that conflicted with their natural roles in life. They seemed to be confined by their marriage. With prospects of not being married again, they exhibited feelings of freedom and exhilaration instead of unhappiness.


When Silko was left alone in the morning, she had a chance to go home to her family but she did not go. This shows that she was not being held against her will. At the death of Mrs. Mallard's husband, she felt a deep sorrow but she also felt free. As Choplin puts it, "She said it over and over again; free, free, free!"(200). She felt that her husband's death had liberated her fro a kind of prison and she was free to assert herself and do things she wanted to do. Silko did not seem to be very disturbed at being away from home. She did not even consider her presence important for the baby. Silko conveyed this impression when she said, "My mother and grandmother will raise the baby. Al will find someone else and they will go on like before" (191). This shows that women might not always be satisfied in the roles they are playing in society. The society expects them to fit into this moulds and be a perfectly happy mother or wife as they case maybe. They act the roles out but they might be interested in some other things. The Structures of male dominance pervade every aspect of the society. Instead of asserting themselves, most women bend to there husband's will.

Contemplating her freedom after her husband's death, Mrs. Mallard said " there will be powerful will bending hers in that blind persistence with which men and women believe they have a right to impose a private will upon a fellow creature" (200). This contributed to her sense of being free when her husband died. The same male dominance is shown in Yellow Woman when Silver told Silko "You don't understand, do you, little yellow woman? You will do what I want" (190). It was as if Silko was not a person and could not have a will of her own. Silko's sense of her own unimportance is also reflected in her assumption that she will be easily replaced by her husband.

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Silko and Mrs. Mallard were portrayed negatively in the essay. Silko was portrayed as a spineless Woman who could not decide whether she should stay with her lover or go back to her family. She was also portrayed as a Woman with no Moral values. However, the negative attributes were made to look good in the essay with the use of ancient folklores. At her husband's death, instead of Mrs. Mallard to grieve and mourn for her husband, she was anticipating her freedom. The death of Mrs. Mallard at the end of the story was also a portrayal of her inability to handle life situations.



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