The significance of place-names is compounded in the personal characteristics of Nick Thompson, Charles Henry, and Chairman Lup. Although their personal characteristics differ significantly in terms of attitudes and approach to reality, their behavioral orientation are relatively the same. The subscription to a single set of norms (the rules attached to the place-names) ensures a relatively predictable pattern of behavior from the three characters.
Hence, one can assume that the behavioral orientation of the three characters stemmed not from their intrinsic characteristics but rather to their personal interpretations of ‘reality. Here, reality takes the form of adjunctive reference to the past, the legacy of place-names. There is a need, however, to look into the personal characteristics (behavioral) of the characters to provide credence to the above-mentioned proposition. Charles is a traditionalist, an individual who clings to the general beliefs and rules of ancient customs. His minimal exposure to the vagrancies of modern life did not affect his behavioral orientation towards customs and tradition. In fact, most of his actions indicate a persona that embraces the beauty and glorious existence of place-names.
In page 10 of the book, Charles said to Mosley: What he’s doing isn’t right. It’s not good. He seems to be in a hurry. Why is he in a hurry? It’s disrespectful. Our ancestors made this name. They made it just as it is. They made it for a reason. They spoke it first, a long time ago! He’s repeating the speech of our ancestors. He doesn’t know that. Tell him he’s repeating the speech of our ancestors. Charles’ obsession with mental images and speeches of his ancestors created a personal impression of sturdiness in his character.
He refuses to allow changes that will affect his beliefs on place-names. Nick Thompson behavioral orientation is similar to that of Charles Henry. An old man who delighted in telling humorous and often embarrassing stories, his expression is quite mischievous and intimidating. In the tribe though, he is known as the true “Slim Coyote. ” Thompson’s character can be described in four words: serious, generous, intelligent, and outspoken. In anthropology, the character of Nick Thompson exemplifies the character of an ideal elder who teaches the younger generation the essence of existence.
In page 43 of the book, he said, “Start with the names. I will teach you like before. Come back tomorrow morning… White men need paper maps. We have maps on our minds. ” Due reference again is made to the highly revered place-names. The Western Apache’s reverence to place-names are generally rooted from the historical value of the place-names themselves. This historical value is imbued in the personal beliefs of every Apache. It can be said that Nick Thompson, by virtue of his age, has strong personal attachment to this historical value.
In fact, his understanding bear more influence to his behavioral orientation than his actual belief in the place-names themselves. His motto in life is: “Learn the names” (a deep understanding of the place-names). Chairman Lup’s character is generally similar to that of Thompson. His obsession with stories about place-names is the primary foundation of his behavioral orientation. For the most, an understanding of his character forces one to assume that he is a strict traditionalist. His personal belief about place-names is actually greater than Charles Henry and almost equal to that of Nick Thompson.