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Sample essay topic, essay writing: Ghostaway - 999 words
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In a country that is the melting pot for many cultures, it is hard to interact with all of them. Tony Hillerman educates readers about one culture, the Navajos, through his novel, The Ghostway. After a shooting happens in the quiet Indian reservation, a Navajo police Jim Chee, officer overcomes many obstacles physically, mentally, and spiritually to sort the case out and protect a young girl. He is constantly struggling with his identity, whether or not he should continue living his life as a Navajo or cross over to mainstream "white" life. Although the book's main plot is about a murder and police investigations, a theme that the book is always making references about is cultural differences and how these mere differences can make things rough on people's lives. The Navajo culture is contains a lot of symbolism, filled with many beliefs, rituals, and traditions that are excluded only to Navajos which makes their interactions with the outside difficult. After a death in a Hogan, the Hogan has to be setup in a way to protect the ghost.
When Jim Chee first went down to the Hogan he noticed what had happened, " He could think of just one reason to block a Hogan's smoke hole."(18)The Navajo tradition is very spiritual and believes in spirits of the dead, they prepare the Hogan in a way so the spirit can do no harm to anyone so the block the smoke to keep the spirit inside. Since he was raised not to enter a dead Hogan it stopped him from really doing his job and investigate the scene. This shows how the Navajos beliefs are so different and philosophical compared to way of life in the city. When Chee is eating at a diner in the city of L.A. he finds it intriguing that it is difficult to figure out the ethnic identity of the waitress, " On the big reservation, where people were scarce and scattered, one tended to lump them into categories." (146) Chee compares how the people from where he is from are not stuck into categories but are all the same
He was not use to seeing so many different races and it was hard for him to distinguish what race is what. Chee also found it to be complicated when it came to see life through other ways rather than the Navajo way because it was so different form what he was used to and he can not make the change. A way that the author also showed cultural differences is through the character Vaggan, a white hit man that wanted the death of those around him. There are times in the book where the author would tell the story from the point of view of Chee to the point of view of Vaggan. During the first meeting between Chee and Vaggan the author does this where Chee is called " an indian" instead of by his name, " The Indian said something in Navajo and laughed." (205) By calling him an Indian, the author shows how Vaggan's ignorance made him assume that Chee was nothing but a drunk Indian. Since Chee and Vaggan are adversaries to each other it is reasonable to compare them and see how they match up to each other.
Vagaan is a violent white man with disregard to human life while Jim Chee is a Navajo Indian that is very caring and follows rules. They both think things out to the fullest extent and use their brains. By doing this it is very noticeable that they are of different background and their views on life are very different. Vaggan seems to love nobody and his view on the world is that everyone should be killed because of his or her ignorance and stupidity. Chee is a very humble person who his deep in has Navajo but is thinking about the decision to become "white".
The biggest distraction to Jim Chee is his lady Mary Landon. Almost during everything he does, he thinks about his love and his decision whether or not to become and FBI agent and leave his mores. If he wants to live a life with Mary then he would have to abandon his Navajo way of living. He knows he can not have a white girl live the Navajo lifestyle because the "white" take on life is so different form the Navajo way. It is such a dilemma for him also because he holds Navajo tradition very close to him and wants to see it continue and without him being there and being a part of the Navajos it would be very intricate. This is something he is constantly battling with because his love for Mary is so great.
However at the end of the book he receives a letter from Mary saying she will not allow Chee to marry her on her terms and live a white life but she might be able to marry him and live the Navajo lifestyle, " I'm not going to force my Jim Chee to be a white man." Mary Landon was having the same obscurity as Jim, whether or not to live a dissimilar lifestyle that they are not fully committed in doing. Chee's battle about living a white life led me to believe that this book was more about cultural differences rather than murders and mystery. The Ghostway is not a fine piece of literature just because it keeps the reader excited about what is going to happen next or the exhilarating fight scenes. It is more than that. The book goes deeper into other issues like the constant struggle to understand other ways of living and how to make the right choices based on the situation that is given to you.
In way of life that is so distinct and strict Chee found it very difficult to understand how other cultures work and how he would fit in. By the end of the book he still does not know which way to go.
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