We should also think of the Las Vegas setting in the context of Annawake's religious background. In telling the story of the pigs in heaven, Annawake relates to Jax that all the stories the Cherokee people tell have a moral message of doing well by one's people. The explicit reference to Las Vegas as a "church" suggests that the games of luck and chance are another kind of religion. Obviously, this religion is grounded in material desire and individual ambition, instead of communal values. Taylor, who does not live in a world of "free breakfast," has explained to Turtle that they need money to survive. Unlike the Cherokee Nation, where food and land are shared freely, the world of white America requires that individuals make their own luck. Taylor ends up in Las Vegas because of this me-first, selfish culture.

Over the course of the novel, Annawake states that she is pursuing Turtle's case for two reasons. The first is that she believes that the tribe always suffers the absence of one of their members, and second, because she believes that Turtle will suffer as well. Annawake appeals to Jax and Taylor on the second account, as she believes they will respond to that argument more readily.

Gabriel's story, however, appeals on both accounts. In these chapters, the reader hears the complete story behind Gabriel's disappearance. Perhaps more than any other character, he symbolizes the tragedy that ensues when Native American people attempt to live isolated from their tribe. Gabriel's story works to provide balance to the novel. His history bolsters sympathy for Annawake's case, allowing the reader to see Annawake for all her humanness, instead of as a war horse blinded by her own ideals. He puts a face and name to the problems that affect both the tribe and the individual when there is a separation. He provides an interesting double for Turtle in the novel. At the beginning of the book, the reader witnesses the intense bond between Taylor and Turtle, mother and child. The reader also witnesses the pain of the community that has lost Gabriel, namely through Annawake's and Dell's suffering. Gabriel's case foreshadows the loss suffered in the community as a result of Turtle's disappearance.

The reader should recognize Gundi and Jax's conversation regarding communal versus solitary life as an important dramatization of some of the novel's themes. Although one expects that Jax sincerely supports Taylor, he should see the situation with a more objective eye. Again, the omniscient point-of-view becomes important and through Jax's perspective, we have a less biased slant. This conversation illuminates the biases inherent in the American value-system, which privileges ambitious individual achievement over achievement for the sake of the community alone. More than anything, this conversation is a kind of confession of ignorance from Jax. He essentially admits to us that he and Gundi cannot fully conceptualize the meaning of communal life. The novel, however, does not reduce Taylor's desires as based on individual ambition or happiness: Jax also suggests that the love a mother sacrifices for her child is like a "holy communion." This is not the "communion" offered by a tribe, but it is a valuable human bond. One might compare the "holy communion" reference—one which is rooted in the Western religious tradition—to the story of the pigs in heaven—a reference to the world view of the Cherokee people. Both are stories of parents sacrificing their children for the sake of the community, or world.

The sex scene in Gundi's house helps to develop a subplot in the novel—the fate of Jax and Taylor's relationship. Although Taylor and Jax have an understanding that Jax can be involved with other women, this incident serves as a crucial plot devise. Up until this point, there has been nothing that would require Taylor to make a choice about Jax. This event will force a decision on Taylor's part.