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The entire story is an extended comment on cross cultural communication. In it a dead person's body is treated according to both Catholic and traditional native customs. Just the fact that this is necessary indicates the complex challenges involved in cross cultural communication. The priest's ambivalence about whether to use holy water in the Native American ceremony is a good example of the emotional challenges of cross cultural communication. He has to do a lot of translation to agree to it, and these translations have both symbolic and emotional impact on him (and the Native community). The story therefore does a good job of showing just how much energy and attention is needed to communicate—and that meaning varies according to context.
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