Sherman Alexie Essay

844 Words4 Pages
Write what you know; a phrase which has been attributed to both Mark Twain and Earnest Hemmingway. Despite the origin of the phrase, there is a valid truth held within it. Experiencing loss, love, jealousy, or pain enables a person to write about it in a way which another person may relate. Sherman Alexie certainly writes about what he knows and his stories show it. Despite critics calling for his books to be banned, Sherman Alexie gives voice to the alienation and hardships of fellow Native Americans through expert use of characterization and point of view as evidenced in Indian Education, Flight Patterns, and Flight. Born in 1966, Sherman Alexie grew up on the Spokane Reservation in the town of Wellpinit, Washington. (Bruce 1). Growing up…show more content…
Our Dimensions Reader included the short story, ”Indian Education” and as a class we focused on race, prejudices, and stereotypes. Following Alexie’s character Junior through snapshots in time, the reader is able to see how the character endures and grows. The format of the story is similar to that of diary entries; each section a grade through school and an event which is life-shaping. In second grade, Junior is exposed to blatant racism from his teacher. The teacher, Betty Towle, sends a letter home with Junior with the ultimatum that Junior’s braids need to be cut, or he should remain home (Stewart et al, 167). Junior’s parents confront Towle, displaying their own braids, but the teacher merely says, “Indians, Indians, Indians” (167). Junior understands that she says the word “Indian” as though it were an insult, but he repeats it to himself with a sense of identity and pride. As he makes his way through high school Junior has to deal with the pressure of the tribal needs, bullying, and the prospect of getting off and away from the reservation. The end of the story demonstrates the sad fact that most of Junior’s classmates never leave the reservation, and can be found most nights at the bar. (Dimensions
Open Document