Yellow Woman and a Beauty of the Spirit

Yellow Woman and a Beauty of the Spirit

Bold and impassioned, sharp and defiant, Leslie Marmon Silko's essays evoke the spirit and voice of Native Americans. Whether she is exploring the vital importance literature and language play in Native American heritage, illuminating the inseparability of the land and the Native American people, enlivening the ways and wisdom of the old-time people, or exploding in outrage over the government's long-standing, racist treatment of Native Americans, Silko does so with eloquence and power, born from her profound devotion to all that is Native American.
Yellow Woman and a Beauty of the Spirit is written with the fire of necessity. Silko's call to be heard is unmistakable; there are stories to remember, injustices to redress, ways of life to preserve. It is a work of major importance, filled with indispensable truths--a work by an author with an original voice and a unique access to both worlds.
  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 208 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780684827070 | 
  • March 1997
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Reading Group Guide

Reading Group Discussion Points

  1. What is the significance of the title "Yellow Woman and a Beauty of the Spirit," both in the essay of that name and in the book as a whole? What similarities join all the essays and make them a collection?
  2. Who is Yellow Woman and what does she represent? Why does every culture or group of people need a figure such as Yellow Woman? Are there any such figures in white, European America? If so, who are they? How do figures such as Yellow Woman embody a culture?
  3. Through Pueblo myths, Silko explains how, to Native American people, human identity, imagination, and storytelling are inextricably linked to the land. Discuss this concept-the inseparability of the land, the people, and the stories. For example, how does a giant sandstone boulder about a mile north of Old Laguna become part of a story about Yellow Woman? Discuss how the land itself evokes the stories.
  4. There is fear that, as time goes by, Native Americans will drift further and further from their roots until their culture and customs have disappeared. But Silko writes, "The old people say, if you can remember the stories you will be all right. just remember the stories." How do stories, many of which are not written down, keep Native American culture alive? What is it about "story" that has such power?
  5. Consider, as Silko does, the telling of stories as opposed to writing them down, where the remembering and retellin
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About the Author

Leslie Marmon Silko

Leslie Marmon Silko, a former professor of English and fiction writing, is the author of novels, short stories, essays, poetry, articles, and screenplays. She has won numerous awards and fellowships for her work. She lives in Tucson, Arizona.