Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

The mode of the story is lyrical. There is only one sentence of direct discourse, and the story’s movement follows Ayah’s consciousness through association of images as she moves forward in her journey to find Chato while drifting back in thought to earlier days.

The story’s imagery relates directly to Navajo traditions and culture. The Yeibechei are spiritual beings, called “holy people.” They are powerful individuals who inhabit sacred mountains, springs, and other holy sites, and who are called on in ceremonies, especially rituals for healing the sick or injured. A Yeibechei song is a sacred song, a part of such a healing ritual, and when Ayah hears the wind singing such a song, it signifies that her story may be understood as a healing ritual. The lullaby at the end of the story echoes the form of many healing songs in its structure of verse and repetition as well as in imagery of earth mother and sky father, rainbow sister and wind brother. Ayah’s elegy concludes with a return to the healing song and a reconciliation on many levels.

Concepts of return and circularity also recur in Navajo thought and iconography. The hogan is a roughly circular dwelling, constructed as a microcosm of the round earth. Pathways and motion are also important. The ideal life is conceived as a journey along the correct, fruitful, beautiful road, often pictured as a rainbow, which will take the individual back to the original—that is, the...

(The entire section is 461 words.)