Dance Hall of the Dead Study Questions & Topics for Discussion

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Hillerman demonstrates the essential conflict between individual desire and societal and cultural limits in Dance Hall of the Dead, as he does in much of his other work as well. He often portrays individual decisions as wrong—or at least misguided— but generally seems to allow cultures as diverse as the Golden Fleece commune, the Navajo people, the Zuni people, and AngloAmerican society to choose whatever rules by which they desire to live. Cultural differences, always a source of tension in Hillerman's fiction, become resolved only through individual commitment and resolve.

1. Hillerman presents many of his characters in pairs—there are two Federal officers involved in the case, two Native American officers, two commune members treated in any detail, two archeologists, two young boys murdered, etc.

Choose any such pairing and compare and contrast the two characters involved. Why does Hillerman pair up his characters...

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This section contains 385 words
(approx. 1 page at 400 words per page)
Buy the Dance Hall of the Dead Study Guide
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