Need help with my writing homework on Why does tayo wants to be white smoke. Write a 500 word paper answering; Why does Tayo want to be “white smoke” ? Tayo after returning from the Second World War is deeply traumatized and full of guilt. He believes that he had killed his uncle Josiah while killing a troop of Japanese soldiers. He also feels enormous amounts of guilt for the death of his cousin Rocky, he feels guilty for surviving himself, whereas his cousin did not and feels that he has failed everyone in his family. All these feelings of fear and guilt drive him crazy, landing him in the veteran’s hospital.
In the veteran’s hospital he is heavily sedated and experiences himself as “white smoke” as he feels hollow and wants to escape from the trauma of the war. Tayo portrays himself as formless as white smoke and refuses to talk to the doctor’s as white smoke is invisible. In his guilt and trauma he wants to become the white smoke because white smoke has no consciousness of itself and in becoming invisible and oblivious he was granted a safe heaven, where nothing horrific or awful penetrated.
Losing consciousness and becoming invisible allowed Tayo to leave the painful memories behind and escape the war and the reality and the guilt of Rocky’s and Josiah’s death. “The smoke had been dense. visions and memories of the past did not penetrate there, and he had drifted in colors of smoke, where there was no pain”. (Ceremony) 1. For him the smoke was a barrier against the pain, where visions and memories of the war did not infiltrate. This barrier of white smoke made him fell safe and secure from the awful reality surrounding him.
The doctor’s further aid him in feeling like white smoke by keeping him drugged, helping him to maintain a state of unconsciousness, oblivious of all things surrounding him. Their medicine drained memory out of his thin arms and replaced it with a twilight cloud behind his eyes”. The medicines induced a state of stupor for Tayo, in which his thoughts, memories and consciousness get lost as if in a fog. Instead of helping him they simply let him believe that he indeed is white smoke.
To Tayo living or becoming white smoke is a way of escaping reality and the ugliness of the war. By keeping his memories at bay he tries to create a place where he is safe from the horrific visions of war and the death of his relatives. A place where he dose not have to feel guilty for killing his uncle Josiah’s or for not being able to protect his cousin Rocky from death.