The writing of Frank Waters is always concerned with the tensions that underlie human existence: male and female, reason and instinct, conscious and unconscious, progress and tradition, linear and nonlinear, matter and energy (or spirit). His fictional characters are involved in efforts to reconcile these tensions, either within themselves or in the world of events. The search for reconciliation is inseparable from what Waters called the spirit of place: Once one is able to embody the unconscious rhythms of one’s locale, one may move more completely toward the reconciliation of these tensions.
In another sense, Waters attempted to give literary expression to this spirit of place. Viewed sociologically, his novels show how this spirit imbues the various racial types of the Southwest. The spirit of place is found in the blood, experienced as a “blood-power” from which one can never quite break free. Because of these instinctual or biological ramifications, the novels about “racial types” are not mere sociological studies but expressions of a spiritual search.
Waters said that the three novels People of the Valley, The Man Who Killed the Deer, and The Yogi of Cockroach Court express his interest in the racial types of the West: the Spanish or Mexican, the Native American, and the mestizos, or those of mixed race. The Woman at Otowi Crossing, which deals primarily with Caucasians, completes this study...
(The entire section is 4159 words.)
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