Exaggeration of Despair in Sherman Alexie's Reservation Blues

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Exaggeration of Despair in Sherman Alexie's Reservation Blues

Gloria Bird realizes that for generations Native Americans have had drinking problems, and she also realizes that it is difficult for “native writers to accurately represent our communities without exploiting them.”(G. Bird) However, Bird criticizes Alexie of embellishing or exaggerating the Native Americans’ despair. Alexie cannot ignore the alcohol situation when describing Native American culture, but Alexie does not need to make alcoholism a common trait amongst almost every ‘Indian’ on the reservation and other reservations.

Bird’s statement concerning Alexie’s embellishment of Native American despair due to alcoholism is an accurate interpretation of Reservation
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Chess asked Thomas if his mother drink when she was alive, and Thomas responded with “She did. Bu she quit. She was sober when she died.”(p.118) Thomas goes on to say that she quit because of an incident during a New Year’s Eve party. “Dad got real drunk, kicked everybody out, and then took all the furniture out on the front lawn, and burned it.”(p.118)

Alexie does not just mention that Samuel is a drunk; he goes further to say that Samuel was an extremely talented basketball player, but alcohol caused Samuel to throw his basketball future away. Even when Samuel was a young man he was drinking, when the tribal cop, Wilson, asked Samuel and Lester, “You two been drinking?”(p.102) Lester responds with “I’ve been drinking since I was five…Kindergarten is hard on a man.”(p.102) Lester is another secondary character that is introduced who happens to be a drunk, for that is how he got his name Lester FallsApart. “Lester FallsApart, the most accomplished drunk on the Spokane Reservation,”(p.151) However, It could be worse for Thomas, because both Victor’s and Junior’s fathers were not just drunks but were also dead.

In Reservation Blues, not much information is given about Victor’s parents; there are only references to the death of Victor’s father in Arizona and the simple fact that his mother is dead. The reason his father died in Arizona is that he could not bear any longer to live on the Spokane Reservation after what he did. One night he got drunk and
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