"It was a song about the roundness of things, of the grass stems and the aspens and the sun and the days and the years." In the book When the Legends Die, by Hal Borland, the author develops Thomas Black Bull as a character by using a theme of Native American literature called the roundness of life. The roundness of life theme helps develop Thomas Black Bull as a character by showing how he lived and adding perspective to his character. .
The mountains were a very nature oriented setting, where the roundness in life was pervasive and therefore could be connected with Thomas Black Bull's character. First, the lodge where Thomas lived was round. Since he was alone in the mountains, he had to have a means of support and the round lodge served as his support. Secondly, the mountains where Thomas lived were filled with objects in nature that were round. Trees, blades of grass, and other living things in nature were round, round in their shape like the tree trunks and grass. An owl's head is round and he could turn it around. This developed Thomas's character by showing his connection with nature. His life was round and so was nature. This also showed that Thomas respected nature. Lastly, Thomas's days were round. He woke up, sung the song to the new day, bathed, ate, hunted, and a few other things, and then it happened again the next day. Even the daylight was round, in the morning it was twilight, in the midday it was bright, in the evening it was twilight again, and then at night it was dark. This cycle of light revolved with the days. This enlightened the reader to the fact that Thomas followed a daily routine and lived in the old ways. The mountain setting helped develop Thomas's character by showing how Thomas connected himself with nature, and lived in the old ways, by the roundness of life. .
At the reservation, Tom was caught in a cyclical chain of events that showed how much he disliked the reservation.