Scared Animals

Criticizing the genetically modified and mass produced cattle used by nearly all ranchers for meat production, Tayo’s uncle praises local and native breeds like the "Mexican" cattle he is thinking of purchasing from Ulibari. I think it is clear that the cattle are an extended metaphor throughout the novel—the white Herefords who are stupid, dependent, and easy to control are continually opposed to the endangered and wild Mexican cattle that are observant, independent, and resilient. During the conversation, Josiah notes that:

“Cattle are like any living thing. If you separate them from the land for too long, keep them in barns and corrals, they lose something. Their stomachs get to where they can only eat rolled oats and dry alfalfa. When you turn them loose again, they go running all over. They are scared because the land is unfamiliar, and they are lost. They don’t stop being scared either, even when they look quiet and they quit running. Scared animals die off easily.” Ceremony

As much as I want to like this passage, I am kept from doing so because I feel like there are a lot of problematic implications. If it is an extended metaphor or not, there is a denigration of dependency, dim-witedness, and compliancy all of which, as a disability rights proponent, are frequently used characterizations to disregard a person's (or an animal's) right to bodily self-determination. The other aspect that I find difficult to swallow is the portrayal of "natural" and "wild" as a kind of panacea.