In Green Grass, Running Water, Thomas King uses a circular narrative, which is different from the classic linear narrative that Western writers tend to use. He employs various storytelling techniques in order to help the readers understand his main idea and his moral message.
The story is told from the perspective of several storytellers, including a single undefined and perhaps unreliable narrator. The other four main storytellers (the four Old Indians) tell the story in their own words—the way they perceive the truth. Readers don't know their age or their gender, but they do learn of their self-given names: Lone Ranger, Ishmael, Robinson Crusoe, and Hawkeye.
The narrators' stories are different, but they're all interconnected with each other. The main purpose is to showcase the contrast between Western and Indian culture.
As the narrative shifts, the readers are given the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the storytellers' thoughts and emotions; this, in turn, allows the readers to directly interact with the storytellers, mimicking an oral discussion and thus combining oral traditions of Native American storytelling and literary or written traditions.
This symbiosis of Indian oral and Western written traditions also represents the theme of cultural clash between Indigenous and Western culture. King essentially makes it possible for the readers to literally listen to and interact with the story. The readers are not only readers, but active "listeners" as well.
"Okay," says Coyote. "Tell me a story."
"Okay,' I says. "You remember Old Woman? You remember that big hole and Young Man Walking On Water? You remember any of this at all?"
"Sure," says Coyote. "I remember all of it."
"I wasn't talking to you." I says.
"Who else is here?" says Coyote.
The implication here is that the readers are "here," also "listening" to the story.
Furthermore, by satirizing Biblical characters and characters from Western literature and film, King alludes to the misinterpretation of Indian spirituality and traditions and Western ignorance and prejudice.
For example, he presents Jesus as an arrogant and egocentric "Young Man Walking on Water" who, according to Old Woman (Hawkeye), needs to "mind his relations." The Biblical Adam, whom King cleverly renames Ahdamn, is presented as less insightful and less intelligent than Eva and even the animals:
Ahdamn is busy. He is naming everything.
You are a microwave oven, Ahdamn tells the Elk.
Nope, says that Elk. Try again.
You are a garage sale, Ahdamn tells the Bear.
We got to get you some glasses, says the Bear.
You are a telephone book, Ahdamn tells the Cedar Tree.
You're getting closer, says the Cedar Tree.
King incorporates mythical elements and magical realism and presents both the Western and the Indigenous myths of creation and shows that in the center of each and every one of them aren't magical or celestial beings, but rather human beings. He even challenges classic Christian and Western beliefs by reducing God's existence to a mere dream, suggesting that Christianity is certainly not the universal truth, but rather a story just like any other. In this sense, the readers realize that "there are no truths, only stories" and that every story has a deeper or even a hidden meaning.