Tony Hillerman Book Report
Dance Hall of the Dead
The main character of this book is Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn; he is a Navajo that values the ways of the Navajo life. In the very first chapter we learn about Lieutenant Leaphorn’s case about the murder of Ernesto Cata. Leaphorn tried to determine the death of the twelve year old boy by using the values he learned throughout life from his grandfather. Leaphorn was also well known for his great tracking skills and examining evidence skills. Throughout the book, many detectives were given false information that would attempt to point them in the wrong direction.
The next important character of this book is the twelve year old Zuni boy that was murdered. His name is Ernesto Cata, who was a very important child to the Badger Clan, who all thought he would grow up to be a natural leader in the community. Ernesto was selected by his community for the honor of being the Little Fire God at the Shalako festival. Ernesto was apparently open minded, and the least prejudice person of all the Zuni community.
Next important people are the Bowlegs family. There is the father Shorty Bowlegs, the youngest brother Cecil Bowlegs, and finally the other of the brothers George Bowlegs. According to Leaphorn, Shorty was a major alcoholic. Leaphorn also said he seemed to be a loving father, but his alcohol deterred often deterred most of his great actions. He eventually was killed during sometime in the book.
Cecil Bowlegs according to Leaphorn was a very young but brave Navajo boy that he misinterpreted to being George Bowlegs, Cecil’s brother. Cecil was a very cautious person when it came to anyone who worked for the authorities, which made it a really hard challenge for Leaphorn to get information about the case. Throughout the book, Leaphorn had to essentially lie to Cecil to try and gain his trust. Cecil caught on to his tactics, which lead to him having to apologize for lying to the boy and lead to him treating him with much more respect. After Cecil’s father died he truly entrusted himself in Leaphorn.
George Bowlegs is best known as Ernesto’s best friend who was a Navajo. George seems to be growing up with a tough life, knowing that his mother ran away and his father being a raging alcoholic. To further this problematic situation, George is attending a Zuni school where is suffering from very discriminatory actions from his fellow students. George was seen as a role model for Cecil. George was hunting for food for both his brother and father, and became a successful hunter of both styles of the Zuni and the Navajo.
The next character of importance is the man who Lieutenant Leaphorn determined through his investigation that murdered Shorty Bowlegs, George Bowlegs, and Ernesto Cata. His name is Dr. Reynolds. Leaphorn has uncovered through his investigations that Dr. Reynolds was a well-known anthropologist that had planted fake arrowheads at an archeological dig site that he was supposedly funding for his upcoming protégé, Ted Isaacs. With that being said, Leaphorn believes this the reason why Dr. Reynolds killed Ernesto, George, and Shorty, to prevent anyone from finding out the truth behind what he had done.
The last important person to the story is the Zuni Chief of Police Ed Pasquaanti. When Leaphorn is dead certain that Dr. Reynolds was the killer, he went right to the chief. Ed then doesn’t even make an attempt to arrest Dr. Reynolds. Coincidentally this leads Leaphorn to tell the Zuni of the murder of Ernesto Cata, George Bowlegs, and Shorty Bowlegs. This is when the Zuni found Dr. Reynolds, and killed him for killing one of their own, Ernesto Cata.
In the beginning of the book, we learn of who Ernesto Cata was and how he ended up being murdered. Ernesto was a young boy that was selected by his people, the Zuni, to be the Shulawitsi, also known as the little fire god, at the festival of...
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