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“The Man To Send Rain Clouds” – Leslie Marmon Silko

Short Story Summary

- Modern setting (written in 1969) but incorporates the rituals and traditions of the ancient
Laguna Pueblo people
- The Laguna Pueblo people believe that their dead relatives will become Cloud People
and bring the gift of rain.
- **Rain was an important element in Native American life because it sustained all life.

*Setting – sheep camp belonging to the Laguna Pueblo people
*Main characters – Leon and Ken (brother-in-laws)
Teofilo (dead grandfather)
Louise and Teresa (family members)
Father Paul (Christian priest)

- Leon and Ken find Teofilo dead in the sheep camp, he had been dead for at least a day or
more
- Leon and Ken prepare him for burial by:
o tying a gray feather in his hair
o painted his face with white, blue, yellow and green streaks
o throwing corn meal and pollen into the wind

- As they prepared him for burial, they asked “Send us rain clouds, Grandfather”
- They put Teofilo’s wrapped body in the back of their truck covered with a tarp
- Father Paul passes them on the road and asks for them to bring Teofilo to mass this week
- They do not tell him Teofilo is dead  they want to bury him in their own way!
- The family provides Teofilo with a Laguna Pueblo burial including their traditions  use
candles and medicinal practices (magical influences)
- Louise and Leon discuss asking Father Paul to sprinkle holy water on Teofilo’s grave 
they are conflicted because that is a Christian tradition and they think Father will be upset
- Leon and Ken ask Father to sprinkle holy water on Teofilo’s grave  he is upset that no
one told him and he mentions that he could have performed Last Rites (another Christian
tradition)
- Leon tries to reassure Father that they did not need a Christian burial however they want
Teofilo to have water so he will not be thirsty
- Father resists at first claiming that there should have been at least a few more Christian
traditions
- Father Paul eventually decides to sprinkle holy water on the grave
- When he arrives, the priest wonders if this is real and if it is perhaps an “Indian trick” to
ensure a good harvest
- Father sprinkles water all over the grave
- Leon is happy that Father agreed – “now the old man could send them big thunderclouds
for sure.”

**Main conflicts  1. Leon and Ken do not tell Father about Teofilo’s death
2. Leon needs to ask Father for holy water (Should he do it?)
3. Father Paul needs to decide if he should comply with Leon’s request
despite the fact that it was not a traditional Christian burial

**Remember  Traditions and rain are both important

Theme The theme is the central idea or perception about life that is revealed through a literary work. . Have students focus on the dialogue between Leon and Father Paul when Leon asks him to bring his holy water to the cemetery. pollen. Discuss traditions with students. Identify the setting and main characters. Ask your classmates what the cornmeal. an object. Description: Writing that portrays a character. 3. Ask your classmates to identify descriptive details of the preparation of the dead man’s body. Ask: Why are traditions important? Can traditions change over time? Do different traditions have to cause conflict? What types of traditions are practiced by your family or culture? What tradition is most important to you? 2. or a scene is called description. and holy water represent. 4.1. Symbol A symbol is a thing that stands for or represents both itself and something else.

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