(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

It is summer in Lukachukai, a town in northeastern Arizona’s Navajo Reservation. Set and Grey have recently begun living together in a hogan near Lela’s house, where the family eats and visits together daily. Almost as soon as Set and Grey entered Grey’s family life, Set saw that Grey had “assumed an attitude of deep propriety, dignity,” and that she had effortlessly returned to the Navajo habits, dress, styles, and language of her mother’s people.

In awe of this woman whom he loves, Set marvels at how swiftly Grey has been transformed before his eyes from a beautiful girl into a beautiful woman, with experience, purpose, and grace. Moreover, she has retained her sense of humor and her ability to love and communicate fully with Set. She is truly, as her mother, Lela, says, “beautiful in her whole being.”

By the end of the first paragraph it is clear that Grey belongs to Set, and he to her. The only problem is that Grey is “whole” in her being, while Set is not. A young man of Kiowa ancestry, Set has lived outside the Navajo world all of his life. Furthermore, he was apparently raised without a family of his own, in orphanages on the fringes of society. Because of his fragmented family background, he remains incomplete. In the Navajo language he is daats’i, a person alone—an orphan in every way.

At first feeling almost boyish in Grey’s presence, Set gradually enters her world, the world, and begins...

(The entire section is 559 words.)