A Thief of Time by Tony Hillerman Essay

819 Words Jun 7th, 2007 4 Pages
In A Thief of Time, Tony Hillerman's characters display perspectives of diverse cultural backgrounds. In Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn we see a shared heritage, as well as their contrasting points of view which stem from choosing different values to live by. Quite a few characters in Hillerman's book, who are not of Navajo blood, connect themselves with Navajo culture through digs, collection, and personal gain. This essay will briefly touch on the view points of three characters; Jim Chee, Joe Leaphorn, and Richard DuMont. In these three, we are able to see a variety of cultural angles and values through their interactions with a single interface, death.

The differences between Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn are blatantly apparent
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Navajos had to compete in the real world. The Navajo Way didn't teach competition. Far from it,"( 227). In Leaphorn's character we are able to see the turmoil that arises when one doesn't have defined values. Without Emma in his physical life he is unable to ignore the empty space where cultural and religious connections would normally reside. After a year of dealing with his wife's death, Leaphorn assesses the option of using the practices of his Navajo predecessors. "And Emma's laughter. It was everywhere he looked. He should sell the house or burn it. Abandon the house contaminated by the death, lest the ghost sickness infect you and you died. Wise were the elders of his people.. But instead, he would play this pointless game,"( 63). Because Leaphorn does not side with the Christian religion and declines the use of Navajo traditions, he lacks the external support required to find closure with death.

. In Richard DuMont's character we see a collectors perspective on death warped by the hunt for personal gain. His need for an impressive tale overshadows any feelings of sorrow he might feel for the murdered pothunters. DuMont, unlike the anthropologists in the book, sees the pots of the Anasazi as mysterious story subjects which he can use to interest his guests. "I show my new pot to my friends. I tell them of murder and a missing woman. He grinned a small, prim grin, showing small perfect teeth."(

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