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Essay Sherman Alexie

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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
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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 the policeman that he doesn’t "fit the profile of the country," but he knows "it would just get [him] in trouble" (183).

Racism also plays a role in his frustrations. Stopping by the 7-11 in the middle of the night to pick up a Creamsicle is not always a pleasant experience. Maybe the clerk is nervous because he’s working the graveyard shift. Or maybe,
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