Think about Dance Hall of the Dead: its plot, its characters, the themes, literary devices, figurative language, etc. Throughout this novel, there are numerous incidents of prejudice and misunderstanding between Navajo and Zuñi and between Leaphorn and the other law enforcement officers. How do the characters in the novel deal with prejudice? What message about prejudice and discrimination does the novel communicate?

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In Dance Hall of the Dead, Tony Hillerman depicts the differences and tensions among the Navajo, Zuñi, and Anglo communities in New Mexico. Navajo detective Joseph Leaphorn investigates the death of Ernesto Cata, a young Zuñi boy, and the disappearance of George Bowlegs, Ernesto's friend—as the Zuñi prepare for the upcoming Shalako ceremony.

A Navajo, George feels his tribe's belief system is lacking something his mystical nature needs. He wants to become a Zuñi and learns about traditions of the tribe from Ernesto. George deals with his dislike of his own tribe by trying to become someone else. Yet his decisions and actions lead to the breaking of a taboo regarding the sharing of Zuñi beliefs and customs, a deed that worries both Ernesto and George.

The events of the novel reveal that the Zuñis have a cherished and protected spirituality and a certain continuity in their history. At one point during his quest, George even approached a Zuñi elder about learning sorcery but only...

(The entire section contains 605 words.)

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