Style and Technique
Momaday’s language is precise and well controlled, yet figuratively expansive and inventive. His mastery is evident throughout. For example, a simple oxymoron physically describes Grey as at once “soft and firm,” effectively combining a range of male-female sensual imagery. The use of chiasmus at the center of the story represents the story’s balance point and shows Set engaged in life and nearing oneness: “His life was in motion; in motion was his life.” The theme of life as motion in “She Is Beautiful in Her Whole Being” echoes a message in Momaday’s House Made of Dawn (1968), his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about a young man attempting to find himself in, and join himself to, the living, moving world.
Set’s passage to oneness of being is also a literary allegory for life itself. Life cannot be complete—nor can it continue—either in isolation or without love. Love leads one out of isolation, out of the self alone, and into family and society, where love and life and beauty become, in an ideally complete world, one unified whole.
“She Is Beautiful in Her Whole Being” is a perfect love adventure, one culminating in a marriage of parts that are each complete but which together constitute an ideal whole. As the firestick is ceremonially consumed, so too are both Set and Grey joined as one. They become one whole, both beautiful in their whole being.