The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, by Sherman Alexie

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In the short stories “A Drug Called Tradition,” “The Approximate Size of My Favorite Tumor,” and “The Only Traffic Signal on the Reservation Doesn’t Flash Red Anymore” collected in The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, author Sherman Alexie uses humor to reflect the life on the Spokane Reservation. In “A Drug Called Tradition,” the story starts with a joke by having Thomas sit down inside a refrigerator in response to Junior’s comment as to why the refrigerator is empty. The Indians are having a party hosted by Thomas, who gets a lot of money from a corporation for leasing some of his land. Alexie’s three second selves, Victor, Junior, and Thomas, later go to the Benjamin Lake and use the drug that Victor brings with him. In “The…show more content…
In “A Drug Called Tradition,” Alexie’s humor efficaciously shows the bitter reality on the reservation. For example, at the beginning of the story, Alexie uses humor to reflect poverty on the reservation. After Junior shouts at Thomas, questioning “[h]ow come your fridge is always fucking empty,” Thomas goes inside the refrigerator and sits down, replying Junior “[t]here…It ain’t empty no more” (Alexie 12). As seen in this example, having Thomas sit inside the refrigerator and reply in a humorous tone, Alexie is successful in mirroring the issue of poverty, or the bitter reality, on the reservation. This point can also be supported by Stephen F. Evans’s essay, "'Open containers': Sherman Alexie's Drunken Indians,” in which Evans discusses Alexie’s use of satire and irony in his stories and poems. As Evans claims that “[c]onsidered as a whole, the best artistic moments in Alexie's poems, stories, and novels lie in his construction of a satiric mirror that reflects the painful reality of lives,” this further verifies the argument that humor in Alexie’s stories helps reflect the bitter actuality on the reservation (49). Similarly, in “The Approximate Size of My Favorite Tumor,” Alexie’s humor effectively shows the bitter reality on the reservation. For instance, once, Jimmy and Norma are stopped by a Washington State patrolman simply because they are Indians: “Washington State has a new law against riding as a passenger in an Indian car” (Alexie 165).
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