Hillerman’s Skinwalkers

How is the land or nature itself presented in Skinwalkers? Why?

The land and nature are used to create the mood and to contribute to the sense of mystery and the unknown that is the driving force of the novel. In particular, nature is used to foreshadow and metaphorically represent the scenes. On page 73, “As far as Chee could estimate from thirty miles away, no rain was falling. He studied the cloud, enjoying the range of blues and grays, its chapes and its movement. But he was thinking of more somber things.” Here, Hillerman is foreshadowing what Chee is predicting, that there are more somber things to come. Chee is a tribal policeman who represents traditional Navajo beliefs. Since he speaks the language and understands the rituals, he appears to be more connected with nature. Therefore, his thoughts about nature and what they represent for things to come are more believable.

Discuss the theme of harmony in Skinwalkers. What causes disharmony? How is harmony to be restored?

The cause of disharmony appears to be human obsession. This can be obsession with the body, the self, or any other particular fixation. Chee has certain worries in his life. He’s worried about the killings, he’s worried about his relationship with Mary Landon, he’s worried about his mother’s Alzheimer’s, and he’s worried about his cat’s strange behavior. These worries are made worse by fixation and the inability to accept the world as it is. As a result, his life becomes filled with disharmony. But harmony can be restored once things that caused disharmony are identified, understood, and accepted.

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