The Meanings Of The Phoenix Arizona English Literature Essay

Sherman Joseph Alexie, Jr was born in October 7, 1966 and grew up Spokane Indian reserve in Wellpinit, WA, which is located about 50 stat mis north-west of Spokane WA ( Grassian, 2005 ) . Having been born hydrocephalic, Alexie underwent a encephalon operation at the elderly of six months. The physicians had small hopes of Alexie lasting the operation. However, against their odds, he survived the operation but developed complications such as ictuss throughout his childhood. His strong will to populate made him get the better of all this challenges and learned to read at a stamp age of three. He besides had a strong liking for reading novels. One of his favourite novels was authored by toilet Steinbecks ‘s titled “ The Grapes of Wrath ” which he read at the age of five.

During life in the Wellpinit School, Alexie bore the brunt of other kids gags on the reserve which he did non take good. The worst came when he found his female parent ‘s name written in a text book assigned to him. Since that twenty-four hours he made a determination to go to high school off from the reserve. Merely as he had wished, he attended Reardan high school which was located 20 stat mis south of Wellpinit. At Reardan high school he was assured of a good instruction. Except for the school mascot, Alexie was the lone Indian in the school. Other than stand outing academically, he was besides a star hoops participant an experience that inspired him to compose his first novel, “ The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian ” .

On graduating at Readan high in 1985, he won a scholarship to analyze in Gonzaga University in Spokane WA. However after two old ages at Gonzaga University he transferred to Washington State University ( WSU ) in Pullman, WA. To carry through his programs of going a physician, Alexie enrolled for pre-med classs at WSU. Due to several episodes of fainting in human anatomy category, he realized he needed to switch his calling. He landed into poesy after he stumbled into a poesy workshop at WSU. With the encouragement of his poesy instructor, Alexie excelled greatly in authorship.

After graduating from WSU with BA in American surveies he continued composing and his first poesy aggregations were published one twelvemonth after he graduated. These aggregations are ‘The Business of Fancydancing ‘ and ‘I Would Steal Horses ‘ . On larning that Hanging Loose Press had accepted to print his ‘The Business of Fancydancing ‘ poesy aggregation, Alexie quitted imbibing intoxicant a job he started on fall ining Gonzaga University ( Grassian, 2005 ) . Since so he ne’er went back in alcohol addiction and continued to compose abundantly.

His first aggregation of short narratives was ‘The Rone Ranger And Tonto Fistfight In Heaven ‘ which was published by Atlantic Monthly Press in the twelvemonth 1993. It is this short narrative aggregation that contains the short narrative ‘This Is What It Means To Be A Phoenix, Arizona ‘ . The aggregation received two awards, PEN/Hemingway Award for Best First Book of Fiction and Lila Wallace-Reader ‘s Digest Writers ‘ Award. The aggregation was reissued in March 2005 by Grove Atlantic Press including two new narratives.

Much of Alexie ‘s authorship depicts his experiences as a Native American. His best known plants are ‘The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven ‘ , a short narratives book and ‘Smoke Signals ‘ movie. A author, poet, film maker, and occasional comic now lives in Seattle, Washington

Literary Analysis of “ This is What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona ”

The secret plan

The narrative is simple with protagonist characters. The narrative focuses on two supporter characters Victor Joseph and Thomas Builds-the-Fire. Thomas is the eccentric folk narrator and an friendless whereas Victor, the chief character, is a self-assured hoops participant with a brooding temperament ( Velie & A ; Mcclinton-Temple, 2007 ) . They both live in Spokane reserve in Washington United provinces. The intelligence of Victor ‘s male parent ‘s decease in Phoenix Arizona marks the start of Victor ‘s and Thomas journey to travel and recover the ashes.

The two immature vaulting horses are related through Victor ‘s male parent, Arnold. Thomas was rescued by Arnold when he was merely an baby from a house fire that that unluckily killed his parents. As a consequence, Thomas regards him a hero. On the other manus, Victor, who bears his male parent ‘s alcohol addiction, domestic force, and forsaking, think his male parent with both deep love and acrimonious bitterness. Thomas and Victor grew up together as neighbours and friends, contending with each other and at the same clip doing a stopping point, though uneasy, bond.

Victor ‘s male parent normally went out to imbibe, but one twenty-four hours he left and ne’er came back. He went to populate in Phoenix Arizona where he subsequently died of bosom onslaught. On acquisition of his male parent ‘s decease, Victor had to go to Phoenix to acquire his ashes and belonging. He could non raise the money he needed and so his old clip friend, Thomas, offered to assist him. Victor was non ready to accept this aid. He rapidly reminded Thomas of the province of their relationship. “ we are no longer friends ” he told him ( Rees & A ; Schmidt, 2001 p.357 ) . Victor had fallen out with Thomas because he of all time gave narratives which he was non willing to listen. Victor is symbolic of many native Indians who had assimilated into the civilization of white Americans which took in as their beginning. They did non desire anything to make with their Native Indian civilization. Despite declining Thomas aid he eventually accepted his aid. By Victor accepting to hold Thomas as his friend once more, it shows that Native Indian civilization still has a topographic point and a function to play in native Indians.

Life in Phoenix was different from the Indian manner of life. They both had to cover with the at odds civilization of people of Phoenix. However both of them were able to keep their Indian individuality. They helped each other to understand himself and cognize his topographic point in the society.

However at the terminal of the narrative, Victor is able to understand why his male parent was ever intoxicated, opprobrious and even abandoned him. The relationship between him and Thomas is he even gives Thomas half of his male parent ‘s ashes.

Subject of friendly relationship

After Arnold separated with Victor ‘s female parent Arlene due to alcohol addiction and domestic force he moved to Phoenix, Arizona, where he subsequently died. Victor and the writer portion a common history. Just like master ‘s male parent, Alexie ‘s male parent went out to imbibe most of the clip and merely came back after his imbibing jet. He continued to make this until one twenty-four hours he left ne’er to come back once more.

On larning about his male parent ‘s decease, Victor needed to go to Phoenix in order to roll up the remains of his male parent. However he could non raise adequate money for menu and his childhood playfellow Thomas came to his assistance. However Victor accepted the aid hesitatingly because he had broken his friendly relationship with Thomas and even treated him severely in their teenage yearss. Other than the fiscal aid Victor got from Thomas he besides wanted to link once more with his yesteryear. Thomas being a narrative Teller, Victor was certain that Thomas would state narratives of their yesteryear in the journey and hence his desire will be met.

Arnord and Thomas Builds-the-fire were great friends. Sometimes Arnold would take Thomas out for breakfast and tiffin. This affable relationship between these two characters could hold stemmed from the decease of Thomas parents which Arnold was responsible. As a mark of compunction Arnord shouldered the duty of taking attention of the immature Thomas. The relationship between Suzy and Arnord can besides be described as being affable. Arnord had stopped imbibing by the clip he met Suzy and had become a loving and pleasant individual. May be because Arnord was non able to travel back to his household even after reforming possibly due to sickness, he showed love and fondness he could hold given Victor to Suzy.

Subject of hurting

The narrative depicts Arnord as male parent to three characters, Victor, Thomas-Builds-fire, and Suzy. Arnord was the biological male parent to Victor. When Arnold was non drank they could play basketball together. To Thomas Builds-the-fire, Arnord was like a male parent to him. He could take him out for breakfast and tiffin. One would merely believe that Arnord treated Thomas in such a friendly manner because he felt responsible for the male child particularly because he was the 1 who started the fire that burnt to decease Thomas parents. To Suzy he was a loving, sober and stamp hearted adult male. Suzy met Arnold much subsequently when he was changed and had quit imbibing. She gave him the fondness that he needed and may be could merely come from a adult female. Arnord took Suzy under his attention and showed her all the love that he wished he could give to Victor.

Except for Victor who had acrimonious memories of his male parent, Thomas and Suzy remembered him with fancy. When Victor and Thomas arrived in Phoenix they met Arnord ‘s friend, Suzy, who tells them about Arnord and even state them about the decease of Thomas parents. As Suzy narrates these memories, Victor looks up to her in “ hurting and confusion ” ( Alexie, 1998 p.98 ) . Victor wondered why his male parent did non demo him the love and concern he gave to Thomas and Suzy even being his biological male parent. He could non understand why his male parent abandoned him or even ache his female parent. Victor could non assist but be covetous of Thomas and Suzy for he could non grok his male parent ‘s actions towards him.

Stylistic devices used in the narrative

Flashback is the most apparent stylistic device used in this narrative. It is chiefly used by Thomas physiques fire. The writer has succeeded in utilizing it in development of the secret plan and therefore assisting readers to cognize the history of Native Indians. The first flashback was sparked by Victor ‘s memory of his relationship with Thomas as that of a individual who ever had something to state. He recalls when they were seven old ages old and Arnord was still populating with his household, how Thomas anticipated abandoning his household. In another flashback Thomas remembers the good yearss when they used to be good friends.Thomas remembers a twenty-four hours he sat on his bike inside Victor ‘s pace waiting for him ( Purdy & A ; Ruppert, 2001 ) . He besides remembers he was 10 old ages old and looked skiny. This flashback helps the reader to cognize that their existed good friendly relationship between Thomas Builds -the -fire and master during their childhood. It besides helps the reader to catch the history of native Indians. In yet another usage of flashback, Thomas is prompted to retrieve Victor ‘s male parent by Victor ‘s inquiry. Victor asked Thomas what he remembered about his male parent. Thomas remembers assuring his Victor ‘s male parent to take attention of Victor. This flashback depicts human relationships as existed among Native Indians.


The writer has been able to successfully develop the secret plan of the narrative utilizing different stylistic devices like flashback. The labored relationship between Victor and Thomas is symbolic of the struggle between Native Indian civilization and white American civilization. Just like master who during his childhood was a great friend of Thomas, native Indians were one time confortable with their civilization and appreciated it. However as yearss went by, they disowned their roots and assimilated to white American civilization. The writer likens Thomas to a tooth doctor in town where everybody has got “ false dentition ” ( Mcmahan & A ; Funk, 2007 p.457 ) . The false dentition are symbolic of white American civilization.

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