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 a problematic relationship with his father, as well as with Thomas, part of their trip to Arizona involves Thomas recounting his experiences with Victor's father and Victor’s ‘rebirth.’ Through the death of Victor’s father, Victor and Thomas come together.
Victor does not feel any real connection to the Native American Indian ways of life unlike Thomas, who is an obsessive storyteller. Thomas Builds-the-Fire’s name advocates his role on the reservation. Builds-the Fire can be interpreted as starting the stories, since fire needs an outside source to get started, so do the stories that are told. Thomas’ stories served a purpose when he was young, since Victor would ask him to tell his tales, but as he got older, people stopped caring. Even though he was not well respected for his stories by other Native Americans on the reservation, Thomas continued on with his tales. At one point Thomas says, “We are all given one thing by which our lives are measured, one determination. Mine are the stories which can change or not change the world. It doesn’t matter which as long as I continue to tell the stories […] I have no brothers or sisters. I have only my stories which came to me before I even had the words to speak. I learned a thousand stories before I took my first thousand steps. They are all I have. It’s all I can do” (Alexie 73). Here, Thomas defends why he perseveres in telling many inventive and vivid stories. Since he lost both of his parents as an infant, he never really had anyone to look up to, therefore Thomas’ imagination and stories were essential in his life and kept him safe. Victor’s father was like the father Thomas never had who also kept him safe, just like his stories.
Thomas experiences many visions throughout the story. When speaking to Victor about a time Victor’s father took him to Denny’s, he mentioned the significance of the dream. “For a long time I was mad because I thought my dreams had lied to me. But they didn't. Your dad was my vision. Take care of each other is what my dreams were saying. Take care of each other"(Alexie 69)....

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