At the novel’s opening, Grey is a self-assured, uninhibited adolescent. She develops mainly in terms of the natural maturation that comes with age. She already has a powerful sense of self, is equally at home in her two worlds (Kiowa and Navajo), and understands the sources of her strength. “Never had Grey to quest after visions,” Momaday repeats throughout the novel; she easily creates her own. Early on, she manifests these qualities of strength and self-assurance in a fairly adolescent way— declaring herself mayor of the collection of abandoned sod-houses where she lives and daydreaming about life with Billy the Kid. Her power and freedom reach their apotheosis in her fantasies about life with Billy the Kid; in these fantasies, she is totally free, brave, supremely capable, and loved. As she matures, and especially after she meets Set, the same qualities she has in abundance in her dreams begin to exhibit themselves more strongly in her real life. At the age of twenty, she understands her responsibility to guide and heal Set, a worldy, successful man approximately twice her age. Grey engineers Set’s rites of passage and brings him into a stable and supportive Indian family. Grey’s development mirrors Set’s, without the turmoil and emotional and spiritual confusion. Because Grey has always been deeply connected with her native culture, she knows and understands her own identity.
Set is the product of a very different environment. An orphan, he is cut off completely from the Indian world. In adulthood, Set seems happy and successful but has no real connection to the community around him. His only true sense of himself is found through his art. When...
(The entire section is 686 words.)