Sherman Alexie is a Native American man who is well known for his novels and short stories based on his experiences as a member of many different Native American tribes. In his short story “Indian Education”, Alexie details the struggles with bullying and discrimination one Native American boy went through during his time in school. Although “Indian Education” is written differently from other short stories it still conveys a solid theme and has a well written plot. Alexie’s style is also a benefit to the reader as they make their way through grade school with the main character, Victor.
In the short story “Indian Education” by Sherman Alexie the theme that is represented in each grade is racism. Throughout Alexie’s life he experiences more and more accounts of racism in school. Also, Alexie experiences levels of hardship as he gets older. Thus, the story’s theme statement could be summarized that racism enables hardship in one's life.
Alexie suggests that people should not limit themselves based on stereotypes of their environment or backgrounds. The author supports this by claiming, “A smart Indian is a dangerous person…” (6). Here, Alexie is showing that when someone overcomes the stigma surrounding them, they can be a force to be reckoned with. Alexie also discusses the personalities and habits of Native kids. He states, “We were Indian children expected to be stupid…” (6). He then goes on to describe how Indian children struggle with basic reading in classes but can seem to remember dozens of traditional Powwow songs. Lastly, Sherman Alexie also alludes to how Indian kids are expected to fail in the non-Native world. “Those who failed were accepted by Indians and...pitied
The short story, “Indian Education” by Sherman Alexie is about Victor, a native and his story first grade through his high school education. In the story Victor’s father is an alcoholic. Victor;’s environment was not healthy, his 2nd grade teacher, Betty Towle, was a racist teacher who made him do unusual punishments . His whole education at the reservation was not good. Victor narrates, “That was the year my father drank a gallon of vodka a day and the same year that my mother started two hundred quilts but never finished any. They sat in separate, dark places in our HUD house and wept savagely”(Alexie 5).Victor is narrating that his father was a heavy drinker and his mother would entangle herself in her knitting. Victor came from a home where one would look for the solutions to their problems at the bottom of a bottle and keep it to themselves. Victor’s whole life was in an environment where there was always a serious issue impacting his happiness and psychological well-being. With his second grade teacher he would be picked on by his teacher all the time. His father was an alcoholic, his mother was his mother, he was living on a reservation where the dogs wouldn't eat the food that is given to them. He was not happy in this situation, being in unhealthy environment makes your chance of happiness
One should get to know a person before judging them because impressions are not always accurate. In the novel, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Junior experiences racism on the Spokane Indian reservation and at Reardan, where Junior attends school. Racial discrimination makes the Indians on the reservation lose their sense of self-worth and they feel as if they deserve to be treated this way. At Reardan, Junior is in an atmosphere where his white classmates and teachers make racist jokes and nicknames targeting him. In the novel, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Sherman Alexie explains how prejudice and discriminatory behaviour endorses negative relationships between people. This can be observed through Junior’s
In Sherman Alexie’s novel “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” the narrator portrays both internal and external conflicts throughout his journey to success. Arnold Junior Spirit is a fourteen-year-old boy who believes that in order to pursue his dream he will have to choose between staying in his Spokane Indian reservation or moving out to an all-white school in the neighboring farm town. But things aren’t as easy as they seem when Junior tries moving schools because he know has to be part of two communities. Many conflicts form within the Spokane Indian reservation and the Spokane Indian reservation as well comes into conflict with the white community.
Authors write for many reasons; most often because they want to tell a story. This is definitely the case with Sherman Alexie, “a poet, fiction writer, and filmmaker known for witty and frank explorations of the lives of contemporary Native Americans.” He grew up on the Spokane and Coeur D’Alene Indian Reservations, and has devoted much of his adult life to telling stories of his life there. Alexie expertly uses language and rhetorical devices to convey the intensity and value of his experiences.
Sherman Alexie choose to reflect on his experience through the education system with the purpose of highlighting the mistreatment of Native American both inside and outside their own culture in “Indian Education”. This was accomplished through the structure of the narrative and use of techniques throughout it. For example, Alexie structures his writing into short, segmented parts based on his level of education going from the first grade to post-graduation. This type of structure allows for a fast-paced narrative where only the most impactful moments of Alexie’s education are shown. Moments such as him being ostracized by those at his reservation because he, “kissed the white girl, I felt the good-byes I was saying to my entire tribe”(Alexie par. 43) or when he overcame his bully and “the little warrior in me roared to life and knocked Frenchy to the ground” (Alexie par. 4) all demonstrated how his culture affected his life. Furthermore, Alexie uses a combination of dark humor and irony throughout the narrative in order to help explain his purpose. In the eighth grade, Alexie makes fun of the bulimic girls in his school by saying “Give me your lunch if you’re just going to throw it up”(Alexie par.51) when the irony of the situation is that Alexie is starving because he lives in poverty while these girls are wasting their food by throwing it up. Sherman Alexie's way of storytelling through short, fast-paced, segmented parts intertwined with dark humor and irony helps achieve his purpose for writing the narrative which was that Native Americans were not only persecuted outside of their culture, but
“The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian”, written by Sherman Alexie, is a novel describing a 14 year old’s journey throughout high school. In the story, Junior, the main character, is faced with multiple obstacles in his life: Hydrocephalus, poverty, and the target of bullying. Despite the world being against him, Junior’s multiple traits helps him greatly when it comes to the adversity that accompanies his migration from the Wellpinit Reservation to Rearden.
Sherman Alexie’s Indian Education tells of the hardships, such as bullying and racial discrimination, that Alexie faced in reservation grade school; I, on the other hand, faced minimum hardships since I went to private grade school. The rules of the private school I went to are based on the Bible, and this created a friendly Christian environment among the students, so bullying of any sort was scarce. Alexie faced constant bullying in the reservation schools he attended. My elementary school life was peaceful and violence was uncommon, whereas Alexie’s elementary school life was traumatizing for him, facing problems with bullying and racism.
No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” Unfortunately Native Americans have deep roots with racism and oppression during the last 500 years. “In The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fist Fight in Heaven,” Sherman Alexie tries to show racism in many ways in multiple of his short stories. These stories, engage our history from a Native American viewpoint. Many Native Americans were brutally forced out of their homes and onto Reservations that lacked resources. Later, Indian children were taken from their families and placed into school that were designed to, “Kill the Indian, save the man.” In the book there are multiple short story that are pieces that form a larger puzzle that shows the struggles and their effects on Native Americans. Sherman Alexie shows the many sides of racism, unfair justice and extermination policies and how imagination is key for Native American survival.
Sherman Alexie, in “Indian Education” tells his experiences in school on the reservation. Some of his teachers did not treat him very good and did not try to understand him. In his ninth grade year he collapsed. A teacher assumed that he had been drinking just because he was Native American. The teacher said, “What’s that boy been drinking? I know all about these Indian kids. They start drinking real young.” Sherman Alexie didn’t listen to the negatives in school. He persevered and became valedictorian of his school.
Internalized oppression is just one factor that contributes to the inescapability of intergenerational trauma. Alexie uses figurative language to demonstrate that the cycle of oppression is further perpetuated by the concept of racial inferiority, poverty, and failure to achieve an education in his short story “The Only Traffic Signal on the Reservation Doesn’t Flash Red Anymore”. The main character, Victor, sits on the porch with his friend Adrian as they reminisce their past and hope for others futures. Victor claims that “Indians [could] easily survive the big stuff... It’s the small things that hurt the most. The white waitress who wouldn’t take an order, Tonto, the Washington Redskins” (49).
This draws a connection to the erasure of Native American culture in history, they are seen as rare and different from the ordinary, and for some people their existence is completely forgotten or denied. His own comments of not belonging at a white school, because of his nationality and family history further show the division of race that he can see at Reardan. Junior’s cursing accentuates how frustrated and pathetic he feels, viewed as less than everyone at his school, and constantly rejected and isolated by his white peers. The negative, demeaning mindset of those white kids is that Native Americans do not deserve anything from white people, not their time, attention, care, or even a proficient education. According to Jens Manuel Krogstad at Pew Research Center, Native Americans have the second highest high school dropout rate- eleven percent. This is very high, especially when compared to the white or Asian dropout rates- five and three percent, respectively. Additionally, it says Native Americans have the second lowest percentage of bachelor’s degrees, only seventeen percent, compared to the two highest, white and Asian, at thirty three and fifty percent (Krogstad). Many Native Americans today are not allowed a chance at education because of poverty at reservations, and lousy, penniless schools. These issues are not thought about or spoken of often, because they are simply not
In Alexie’s vignette, “Indian Education”, these themes of racism and discrimination come up very often when Victor describes the challenges he faced going through school. Victor recalls how his second-grade teacher made him “...stay in for recess for fourteen days straight.‘” (Alexie 172) but he explains that he didn’t do anything to deserve a punishment like this. In this situation, Victor’s teacher is denying him a privilege because of his race. In another circumstance, Victor’s teacher makes Victor apologize for “‘Everything’” (Alexie 172) she then makes Victor “...stand straight for fifteen minutes, eagle-armed with books in each hand.” (Alexie 172-173). During this situation, Victor is forced to perform a specific action as punishment for nothing, this unjust treatment of Victor sparks from the grounds of his race. Once again in second grade, Victor receives another chastisement out of the disapproval of his ethnicity when his teacher, “...crumpled up the paper and made me eat it.” (Alexie 173). Lastly, Victor’s teacher, not accepting Victor’s cultural differences, “She sent a letter home with me that told my parents to either cut my braids or keep me home from class.” (Alexie 173). Victor’s braids are symbols of his culture and ethnicity, and when Victor’s teacher threatens to take away his education if they are not removed, discrimination against Victor is very prominent.