Old-Time Pueblo vs. Contemporary Western Culture
Leslie Marmon Silko, a Native American woman, who was raised during the old-time Pueblo world, finds it hard to adapt to the contemporary Western Culture. As time goes on, it seems to Silko that society changes for the worse. There are numerous differences that Silko states in her writing to emphasize the change that has occurred over time. She prefers old-time Pueblo better since her tone towards the contemporary Western culture is very nostalgic. Silko describes the old-time people to be communal and act as brothers and sisters, where as our contemporary Western culture is judgmental towards others’ beliefs and desires in life. She discusses how physical appearance, gender roles, and sexual preferences were viewed differently during both times.
The Pueblo societies definition of beautiful was also different. They only considered someone beautiful depending on their behavior and relationship with another human being. The person had to be beautiful as a whole, not just their face or body because “faces and bodies could not be separated from the hearts and souls.” If one was not passing on healthy or positive energy, he or she was not considered beautiful. Another difference that Silko talks about in her writing is gender roles. During the old-time Pueblo women were admired for their strength. They owned houses; therefore they did the plastering and hard labor themselves. The men, on the other hand, made baskets and also helped with childcare. Gender did not play a role in peoples lives; the person who could get the job done did all the work not taking into consideration what their gender was.
In the old-time Pueblo there was no such thing as face-lifts and liposuction. Everyone was loved and adored no matter what size or color they were. In our contemporary western culture people consider getting face-lifts and liposuction. They also openly discuss it amongst others to determine social status. Just like Silko explains, it says to the world “I have enough spare cash that I can afford surgery for cosmetic purposes.” In the old days people were better off with their differences rather than trying to change themselves to fit in and be accepted by society. Everyone celebrated each other’s flaws and differences rather than judging and discriminating one another.
During the old-time Pueblo no one was judged by their physical or sexual differences. Silko shares a story from her past about a young man who wore nail polish and women’s clothing, however he never got mocked or judged. They were treated equally and respected for their differences. Another reason why Silkos attitude is nostalgic towards the contemporary western culture is because pregnancy was always appropriate. It was natural for women to become pregnant even before marriage since new life was always celebrated no matter what the circumstances were. More over, children grew up in a loving family where they even called their aunts “mother.” This emphasizes the strong bonds that families had. Also, how much love and respect children had towards someone much older than them.
In summary, there are numerous reasons to why Silkos attitude towards contemporary western culture is very nostalgic. She sees the past as a better place rather then now and the future. Silko describes the differences that have occurred through out the years such as physical appearance, gender roles, and sexual preferences. She also sees the old-time Pueblo as a better time because everyone saw each other’s differences but that did not stop anyone from treating one other equally and with great love.