Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 241
One of the most memorable passages in A Thief of Time is the one that gave the novel its title, "Someone had been digging. Someone had been looting. A pot hunter. A Thief of Time." The imagery of a "thief of time" is symbolic of the stolen history of not only indigenous cultures in America, but of the "stolen" life of the murder victims as well.
One of the excerpts that give the novel cultural and geographical context is, "Leaphorn didn't comment. It was the decision he would have made. Handle it on Navajo time. No reason to rush in there." This illustrated the fact that the Navajo Country (reservation) has a different way of life than the rest of the United States. It gives a social and cultural background to the story's setting.
Another cultural insight found in the novel comes from the following excerpt, "It was more that Chee seemed to think an island of 180,000 Navajos could live the old way in a white ocean. Perhaps 20,000 of them could, if they were happy on mutton, cactus, and pinon nuts. Not practical. Navajos had to compete in the real word. The Navajo Way didn't teach competition."
Again, this emphasized the ethnographic context of the novel's setting, and why it was essential to the plot. Without recognizing the cultural elements of the setting, the novel would be one-dimensional or inconsistent. The plot itself was dependent on the understanding of Navajo culture.