Style and Technique

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Last Updated on May 8, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 192

Allen is of mixed Keres, Sioux, and Lebanese heritage, and was brought up at the Keres pueblo of Laguna in New Mexico. Allen’s fiction derives not only from Keres beliefs and myths, but also frequently, as in “Spirit Woman,” incorporates into the plot materials from the oral tradition, such as the creation story and the explanation of Coyote’s responsibility for the entry of death into human experience. The story’s structure is that first the myth is presented, followed by Allen’s interpretation and the application of that interpretation to the life and situation of the story’s main characters.

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The physical action of the story is minimal: waking, a gesture of greeting, a dream, a final physical and spiritual waking. The sentences tend to be short and fragmentary, the diction simple and straightforward, but the content is influenced heavily by surrealistic techniques, as when Ephanie’s room “filled with shadows. And the shadows became shapes. And the shapes became women singing. . . . With her shawl wrapped around her shoulders in the way of the women since time immemorial . . . she joined the dance. She heard the singing. She entered the song.”

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Themes