This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Sherman Alexie Essay

1147 words - 5 pages

Sherman Alexie

The odds were against Sherman Alexie on that day in October 1966. Not only was he born a minority, but he was also hydrocephalic. At the age of 6 months, he had a brain operation, but was not expected to live. Though he pulled through, doctors predicted he would be severely mentally retarded. Fortunately, they were wrong, but he did suffer through seizures and wet his bed throughout his childhood ("What" 1).

Rather than being called "Native American," which he feels is a "guilty white liberal term," he prefers to be called Indian. He is a Spokane/Coeur d’Alene Indian, in fact, and grew up on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Wellpinit, Washington. To avoid being picked on by the other reservation kids, he spent most of his time indoors, where he developed a love for reading. But as he grew older, alcoholism, which plagues most reservations, found its way to Alexie, and he suffered this disease for five years until he became sober at 23 ("What" 1).

He graduated high school with honors and originally planned to become a doctor until a fainting episode in a Human Anatomy class changed his mind. He attended Gonzaga University on scholarship and graduated in American Studies from Washington State. He then received two consecutive Fellowships in 1991 and 1992, and shortly thereafter wrote six poetry and poem/short story books. Two of these, The Business of Fancy Dancing and The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fist Fight in Heaven, earned him literary awards (What" 1). By 1998, his list of accomplishments grew to include Reservation Blues (1995), which earned him Granta’s Best of Young Novelists, the Before Columbus Foundations Book Award, and the Murray Morgan Prize. Indian Killer (1996), his second novel, was The New York Times Notable Book and People’s Best of Pages. He is also responsible for writing the screenplay for the movie Smoke Signals that won two awards at The Sundance Film Festival in 1998.

Most of Alexie’s writing reflects life on the reservations today. The poverty, oppression, commodity food, and alcoholism are the main themes in his stories. The title story of his collection The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fist Fight in Heaven, however, deals with the life of an Indian man who has left the reservation to live in Seattle and some of the obstacles he faces in the white world. We never know the main character’s name, probably because he feels like a nameless nobody in this strange world. He is alienated and told that he doesn’t belong even

though he is the true aborigine. When a policeman pulls him over one night and asks him "where are you supposed to be?" (182), he clearly shows his alienation by thinking, "I knew there were plenty of places I wanted to be, but none where I was supposed to be" (182). He realizes he is "making people nervous" (183) because he doesn’t "fit the profile of the neighborhood" (183) in which he is driving. But it isn’t just that neighborhood, or any other nice neighborhood. He wants to tell...

Find Another Essay On Sherman Alexie

What You Pawn I Will Redeem by Sherman Alexie

1356 words - 5 pages Sherman Alexie writes in his story, What You Pawn I Will Redeem about a homeless Salish Indian named Jackson Jackson. Alexie takes readers on Jackson’s journey to acquire enough money to purchase back his grandmother’s stolen powwow regalia. Throughout the story, Jackson’s relationships with other charters ultimately define his own character. Alexie, a well know Native American author tells an all too common tale of poverty and

Story Essay about Sherman Alexie - Morrisville State College - Essay

502 words - 3 pages Reading the short story “This Is What It Means To Say Phoenix, Arizona”, the reader notices quickly, that the writing style of Sherman Alexie is different than other authors’ writing styles in a few ways. Sherman Alexie has a very difficult biographical background. He grew up in a poor reservation in the State of Washington where he had to deal with a lot of problems concerning alcoholism, physical disability, racism, missing education/future

Sherman Alexie: What it means to be an Indian in America

987 words - 4 pages Sherman Alexie: What it means to be an Indian in America “Dr. Mather, if the Ghost Dance worked, there would be no exceptions. All you white people would disappear. All of you. If those dead Indians came back to life, they wouldn’t crawl into a sweathouse with you. They wouldn‘t smoke the pipe with you. They’d kill you. They’d gut you and eat your heart.” -Marie, Indian Killer, 314 The identity of the modern Native American is not found

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

1280 words - 5 pages capable of reaching those capacities. For instance, Mr. P says to Junior, “’But I do forgive you,’ he said. ‘No matter how much I don’t want to. I have to forgive you,’” (Alexie 28). This demonstrates the amount of maturity that Mr. P wants to exhibit to Junior, in hopes of earning more respect from him. I believe that Mr. P provides the strongest sense of a mentor, beside Grandma Spirit, in this story because he pushes Junior to strive for greatness no matter what. Works Cited Alexie, Sherman. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. 2007. Print.

This is Waht it Means to Say Pheonix, Arizona, by Sherman Alexie

874 words - 3 pages In “This Is What It Means To Say Phoenix Arizona,” found in The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, by Sherman Alexie, we are reintroduced to Victor and learn that his father has passed away. Victor and his childhood friend Thomas Build-the-Fire’s embark on a journey to Arizona to obtain Victor’s father’s ashes. Thomas reveals that he had made an assurance to Victor's father years before to help him when the time came. Although Victor had

Analysis of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

1085 words - 5 pages The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian which was written by Sherman Alexie, combines humor and tragedy to tell a first-person narrative story of Arnold Spirit Jr., a 14-year-old Native American teenager, and the events in his life about pursuing his dreams. This book is a semi-autobiographical novel and it has won the 2007 U.S. National Book Award for Young People's Literature and the Odyssey Award as best 2008 audiobook for young

Sherman Alexie: The Absolutely True Diary Of a Part-Time Indian Essay

894 words - 4 pages Being unwanted, uncared for, unloved and forgotten by everybody even by your own family is a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat. As the book The absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie talks about an Indian boy, Arnold Spirit, who was born in the Spokane Indian reservation in Wellpinit with brain damage. Arnold takes us along on his journey and we learn how absolutely awful and devastating poverty

"The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven" by Sherman Alexie and "Smoke Signals"

2560 words - 10 pages "Indian". But Sherman Alexie ,in his volume "The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven" and then the movie Smoke Signals based on one story from this volume- Thus Is What it Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona- try to present the image of the real Indian in the real life and work against this "formerly-held stereotypes to form a new, uniquely Spokane identity" all these in a humorous, ironic manner.Alexie, in his volume tries to reinvent the way back

The Present Day Native American Experience as Described in The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fist Fight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie

1487 words - 6 pages “. . . every little war, every little hurricane. I’ll take my Indian thumb and my white fingers on my strong right hand and I’ll take my white thumb and my Indian fingers on my clumsy left hand and I’ll make fists, furious.” In The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fist Fight in Heaven, written in 1993 by Sherman Alexie, he describes the present-day Native American experience through a series of short stories. Throughout the stories Alexie describes

The Other Side of the fence in Women Hollering Creek by Sandra Cisneros and The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie

1618 words - 7 pages , and essayist (b. 1954). It is a story of a young Mexican girl Cleofilas, who with visions of grandeur leaves her family to marry a man she barely knows and begin a new life across the border in the United States. The second short story is by Sherman Alexie (b. 1966) who was born on a reservation to Native American parents. This story is about the struggles of a Native American man who tries to disprove the stereotypical view society has of Native

A comparative between the "The Lone Ranger" and "Tonto Fist Fight in Heaven", by Sherman Alexie and Ceremony, by Leslie Marmon Silko

740 words - 3 pages they are still reaching, grasping for the rich culture they once had.In the modern tale, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fist Fight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie, the Native Americans of the Spokane Indian Reservation, live in a world of lost dreams, the dregs of spirit tales, and fallen Basket Ball heroes. One by one they succumb to the oblivion of despair, alcohol and drugs. The only comfort comes from their past and their fellows in desolation. Yet

Similar Essays

Sherman Alexie Essay

1506 words - 7 pages To most Americans today, life on the reservation is not at all like is glorified to be. Sherman Alexie uses his literary talent to expose the truth inside the reservation. In particular, in his short stories, “The Only Traffic Signal on the Reservation No Longer Flashes Red,” “Every Little Hurricane,” and “Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven,” Alexie reveals the ever continuous cycle trend of alcoholism, poverty, and racial injustice from

Smoke Signals By Sherman Alexie Essay

2631 words - 11 pages Smoke Signals by Sherman Alexie Smoke Signals is a movie written by Sherman Alexie and directed by Chris Eyre that deals with many social issues in modern Native American cultures. The film follows the journey of two Coeur d’Alene Indians, Victor and Thomas, as they travel from their reservation in Oregon to Phoenix, AZ in order to gather the personal artifacts of Victor’s father who has recently died. Along the way, Thomas helps Victor to

Sherman Alexie A Native American Writer

1496 words - 6 pages Sherman Alexie has made a name for himself as a prolific contemporary Native American writer, taking inspiration from his own past and experiences with modern Indian life. While there are many enduring themes throughout Alexie's writings: Native identity, modern reservation life, alcohol abuse etc. when it comes to his collection War Dances, the most apparent motif is fatherhood. Community and family are the heart of Native American cultures

Sherman Alexie And Native American Writing

1859 words - 7 pages Sherman Alexie began his literary career writing poetry and short stories, being recognized for his examination of the Native American (Hunter 1). Written after reading media coverage of an actual execution in the state of Washington, Sherman Alexie’s poem Capital Punishment tells the story of an Indian man on death row waiting for his execution. The poem is told in the third person by the cook preparing the last meal as he recalls the many