Exaggeration of Despair in Sherman Alexie's Reservation Blues Essay

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Exaggeration of Despair in Sherman Alexie's Reservation Blues

Gloria Bird realizes that for generations Native Americans have had drinking problems, and she also realizes that it is difficult for “native writers to accurately represent our communities without exploiting them.”(G. Bird) However, Bird criticizes Alexie of embellishing or exaggerating the Native Americans’ despair. Alexie cannot ignore the alcohol situation when describing Native American culture, but Alexie does not need to make alcoholism a common trait amongst almost every ‘Indian’ on the reservation and other reservations.

Bird’s statement concerning Alexie’s embellishment of Native American despair due to alcoholism is an accurate interpretation of Reservation Blues. In Reservation Blues, almost every Native American is an alcoholic. Two of the main characters, Victor and Junior, spend all of their money on booze and get wasted on a regular basis. “After the tavern had closed, Junior and Victor climbed into the water truck and passed out.”(p.24) It is reasonable for there to be a few drunks, but Alexie introduces or makes references to too many Indians who either lost everything or their lives because of alcohol. When Thomas’ father Samuel is introduced he is drunk, and Alexie explains that this is normal, for “Thomas…had lost count of the number of times he’d saved his father… Once, a month, he bailed his father out of jail for drunk and disorderly behavior.”(p.95) Even though Thomas didn’t drink,...

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