What settings are found in Juanita Platero and Siyowin Miller's short story "Chee's Daughter"?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Setting essentially refers to the time and location in which a story takes place. Yet, setting also helps establish the mood of a story; therefore, setting can also refer to what society is like for the characters, what the weather is like, and any other surroundings (Literary Devices, "Setting").

In Juanita Platero and Siyowin Miller's short story "Chee's Daughter," we are never told an exact location and time period. Yet, we do know the story centers around the Navaho people, who have their largest populations in Mexico and Arizona.

The short story also opens on a "warm winter day," and the narrator describes snow visible on the caps of "distant mountains." In addition, the protagonist is described as riding to his home in Little Canyon; therefore, all of these elements count as aspects of the setting.

Particularly interesting is the authors' use of oxymoron in describing the setting. An oxymoron is a phrase of contradictory terms, such as "jumbo shrimp." While in many places it is certainly very common for winters to be warm, the phrase "warm winter day" is generally contradictory and can be considered an oxymoron. The use of oxymoron helps develop events in the story, such as Chee's fight for his own daughter when his wife's parents claim the child after his wife's death according to Navaho custom. Chee's fight for his child helps develop the theme of ancient customs vs. modern customs and desires. Just like a "warm winter day" is contradictory, Chee is in a contradictory conflict concerning who has the rights to his own child. 

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