What Is a Summary of “Lullaby” by Leslie Marmon Silko?

“Lullaby” by Leslie Marmon Silko is a short story about an old woman named Ayah who reminisces about the tragic times in her life. Ayah also ponders the role of her mother and grandmother in some of the happy events in her life.

The story begins with Ayah, a Native American woman, leaning against a tree near a stream. She thinks first about her mother weaving on a loom and her grandmother spinning wool into yarn. They are also both present at the birth of her first son, Jimmie.

The tragic events in Ayah’s life usually involve a white authority figure. She remembers when a white man came to tell her that Jimmie died in a helicopter crash during the war. Her husband, Chato, translated the news for her. Later, white doctors take away her other two children because of an alleged disease. They visit later, and it is obvious that her children are forgetting their Native American culture. Chato is also exploited by the white rancher who employs him.

Chato and Ayah eventually begin receiving federal assistance checks. Chato cashes these to go drinking at a local bar. As the story catches up to the present time, Ayah is on her way to look for Chato at the bar. He is not inside, instead she finds him walking home in the snow. They stop to rest on the way home, and Chato lies down in the snow. She realizes that he is dying and sings to him the lullaby her grandmother had sung.