Shoie is a conflicted character in The Vanishing American. He was a violent, disturbed man who many might see as a villain in the story, a black hat if you will. We are classifying him as a victim suffering from mental illness, tortured in the war, delusional. Clearly he was a victim of conditions beyond his control. Here is a brief description of Shoie from the novel:
The Vanishing American:
"Not of you or Blucher," replied Lord, with a sardonic grin. "It came about this way. There's a half-nutty Nopah named Shoie. He's a spellbinder. He heard about these Pahutes having Gekin Yashi hid deep in the canyons. Of course all the Nopahs knew that. Wal, this nutty Injun sends word by a Pahute that he had put his spell upon Gekin Yashi to kill her. He'd already killed two Nopah women with his spell. (Chapter XII)
Shoie made faces at them. They drove spikes through his hands and feet and left him to hang for a day. Then they tried again to make him tell what they wanted to know. Shoie stuck out his tongue at the intolerant Germans. They ordered his tongue cut out. And still they left him to hang. (Chapter XX)
She did not recognize Shoie. He was some other Indian, like the evil spirit he claimed to possess. His face had been strangely lacerated, and he resembled a creature distorted by demoniacal laughter. Shoie was a physical wreck. His Indian garb, that manifestly he had acquired from an Indian of larger stature, hung loosely upon him, and it was ragged. She did not see how he could keep warm, for he had no blanket. And he huddled over the stove. Presently he observed that Marian was looking at him. She could not tell whether he was angry or glad. He opened his mouth. His scarred lips moved to let out a strange sound. It bore no semblance to words. Yet how plain it was that he tried to speak! Only a roar issued from that tongueless cavity. To Marian it was horrible. She fled. (Chapter XX)
When you read those passages, it is easy to consider him as someone victimized by life. In Traders to the Navajo, Francis Gillmor writes of Nakai Yazi, a mentally ill man who was likely the inspiration for Shoie:
Traders to the Navajo:
'She died last night,' they said. 'She was bewitched. Nakai Yazi , the half-breed Mexican, bewitched her.'
A few days later ten old men appeared at the post with the half-breed bound to a horse.
'I will talk to this man here,' she said. 'Why do you have him bound?'
'He refused to come with us,' the old men told her. 'And he is not through working his evil spells. He says himself he bewitched the woman who died. Now he says he is going to bewitch two more women of the same family, and another who lives near-by. He is going to bewitch his own mother too. Or his own sister, perhaps...'
As the old man spoke, the Slim Woman knew the half-breed was insane. Not otherwise would he confess to witchcraft. 'Let him come inside,' she directed. 'I will talk to him.'
They unbound him and allowed him to dismount. Together the old men and the witch and the Slim Woman entered the trading post.
'Now what did you tell these men?' asked the Slim Woman gently.
The half-breed repeated his story. 'I put a spell on the Gruff Man's wife. I will put a spell on his sister and his niece too; they will die.'
'You must take your spell off these people,' commanded the Slim Woman. 'These men are taking you now to meet the policeman from the Winged Rock. But he will let you go free if you go no further with your spells.''
The half-breed sitting on the floor of the trading post gave his promise to the Slim Woman. 'I will stop now,' he said. 'The women will not die.'
The old men untied the last of his bonds. Rushing over to the Slim Woman, he embraced and thanked her with tears in his eyes.