Comparing 'This Is What It Means To Say Phoenix, Arizona' and the Life of Sherman Alexie

Aug 3, 2018 in Literature

Being born in the family of Indian parents, Sherman Alexie is still considered as one of the most popular writers, poets and filmmakers in American culture. In his childhood, Alexie had been suffering from a mental disease. While living in the reservation and studying at school there, the author survived through many life challenges; his moving to Washington is considered to be the biggest step in his future career that has changed his life completely. Sherman Alexie is a Native American; thus, no wonder that almost all his works are centered on the problem of Native Americans in the United States of America. His stories tend to mirror his life experiences.

The first famous collection of short stories written by Sherman Alexie, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, became not only the basis of his future movies, but also his sort of label in the American and world’s literature. Almost in every story Sherman Alexie applies symbols that help the author to describe the confrontations between Native Americans and white men.

‘This is what it Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona’ is one of the stories from Alexie’s collection that soon became a script for the movie called Smoke Signals. The main characters of this story are Victor and his childhood friend Thomas-Builds-the-Fire. Victor has just lost his father, but living far away in reservation and without money he decides to borrow it. Thomas-Build-the-Fire is the one who decides to help his old friend; as a result, they both travel to Phoenix, Arizona. ‘This is what It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona’ mainly focuses on showing its readers the conflicts not only between the two communities, Native Americans and white men, but also the conflicts that exist inside each community, the problems that are destroying it. Like any other piece of literature, Sherman Alexie’s story can be considered just as a common story for its readers’ entertainment; although, one should not forget that the author had grew up and lived in the Native American community. Sherman Alexie depicts struggles in the Native American society; the main its struggle is the one with time. In ‘This is what it Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona’, Alexie emphasizes on the fact that traditions he was raised in are almost dead nowadays; he focuses on the love between parents and children that was highly respected once; finally, the author pay significant attention to the true friendship between heroes.

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