Dance Hall of the Dead Themes & Symbolism

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The story's protagonist, Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn, spends a lot of time reflecting on the value of culture and tradition during the course of his investigation into a Zuni boy's murder. Leaphorn experiences a subtle level of discrimination from the clannish Zuni because of his Navajo background. Leaphorn even admits to having a minor inferiority complex about the Zusi, whom he admires despite their feelings about Navajos. In ancient times, Zuni tribal initiations actually involved scalping a Navajo. The bad blood between the two cultures goes back to before the time the white man came to America. When the white man conquered the country inhabited by Native Americans, he lumped all the Native Americans together in one category. For the most part, that category was discriminatory in nature and according to Joe Leaphorn's experience, many whites still persist in their ignorant belief that Indians are dumb...

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This section contains 1,092 words
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Buy the Dance Hall of the Dead Study Guide
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