Analyzing Sherman Alexie's 'Reading For A Smart Indian'

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Carlos Ardila Professor Newman ENC1102 4 February 2015 Reading for a Smart Indian No matter the language, no matter the race, no matter the individual circumstances, reading regularly guarantees knowledge and allows for greater opportunities of success. Sherman Alexie, raised a poor Spokane Indian boy, read his way to self-fulfillment absorbing all forms of writing from pawned books from his father’s collection to the backs of cereal boxes. Unlike most people, Alexie recalls in detail the exact moment he pasted together the process of reading. This moment for him planted what would later become greater works of writing admired by poor Indian kids just like him in his youth. Using vivid repetition and ambitious childlike thinking, Alexie both…show more content…
Environmental factors greatly affect the development of a child and depending on the stress (positive or negative) it can significantly alter behavior. Throughout the essay the author frequently references the deficient social class and unstable environment he grew up living in. These references each hold more than just a glance into his past. They contain an underlying tone of severity and despondent understanding of his unfortunate situation. The quote “He [Alexie] grows into a man who often speaks of his childhood in the third-person, as if it will somehow dull the pain and make him sound more modest about his talents,” effectively showcases his self-awareness and just how much his past has marked him (Alexie 5). Fully aware of the expectations both Indians and non-Indians have for an Indian, Alexie chose to keep his thirst for knowledge making him a smart and dangerous Indian, one to be reckoned with. By reading he fought the submissive attitude his fellow people had when confronted by the outside world. He claimed, “I refused to fail. I was smart. I was arrogant. I was lucky” (Alexie 6). Because of his ambitious attitude towards reading and knowledge, he was desperately reluctant to give…show more content…
Now he writes novels, poems, short stories and even essays discussing his childhood memories about reading. He understands how reading came to save him and he understands how reading can save others that are growing up in similar conditions. His work as a writer has even already impacted the lives of many, “I visit the schools as often as possible. The Indian kids crowd the classroom. Many are writing their own poems, short stories, and novels” (Alexie 6). While this success is notable by the standards he lived in, Alexie still faces the submissive attitude he grew up seeing like “….the sullen and already defeated Indian kids who sit in the back rows and ignore me [Alexie] with theatrical precision” (6). He knows he must fight their reluctance with his own by emphasizing the power reading holds to success. He must tell them of books and the knowledge within them, he elaborates, “I throw my weight against their locked doors. The door holds. I am smart. I am arrogant. I am lucky. I am trying to save our lives” (Alexie

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