Analysis Of Sherman Alexie 's ' The Lone Ranger And Tonto Fistfight ' Heaven '

Analysis Of Sherman Alexie 's ' The Lone Ranger And Tonto Fistfight ' Heaven '

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In American culture, no ethnic group is marginalized more by physical borders than Native Americans. While a border is supposed to distinguish differences, borders can take on ambiguous meanings to distort cultural identities. Susan Stanford Friedman explains that border studies concerns itself with “the exploration of the metaphoric dimensions of borders and borderlands as tropes for regulative and transgressive patterns in the cultural and social order” (273). According to Friedman, the term border has dual meaning, “they protect but also confine” (273). The idea of borders is unique because borders “insist on purity, distinction, and difference but facilitate contamination, mixing, creolization” (Friedman 273). When identity is fortified by the oppression and marginalization enforced by the notion of borders, cultural loyalties are tested. In Sherman Alexie’s The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, the character Victor embodies cultural confusion manifested by the frustration of borders.
Throughout Fistfight, Victor finds it difficult to manage being a Native American, especially when being Native American is being the object of ridicule. For example, when Dirty Joe passes out from drinking “too much coat-pocket whiskey,” Sadie and Victor sit beside him as “all the white tourists watch, laugh, and point a finger” (55). Victor feels “afraid of all of them, wanting to hide behind his Indian teeth, the quick joke” (55). In an effort to protect defenseless Dirty Joe, Victor is confined to mockery initiated by the white tourists. Although sitting with Dirty Joe to ensure his safety is noble, Victor feels embarrassed and ashamed. Victor would have rather hid behind a crude stereotype, than continue the subjections by the whit...


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...our past” (58). Borders creates a dimension in Victor’s soul with no boundaries as characterized by the “dark” in his eyes. Although not fully determined, Victor’s identity is none-the-less immeasurable. In a broader context, the mirrors can also reflect the pervasive nature of borders. Victor fits different casts, and as reflected, diverse molds can fit Victor. While difference is integral to living between borders, difference does not mean isolation. The macho that can recognize vulnerability can transition to the mestizo, “a blending that proves that all blood is intrinsically woven together, and that we are spawned out of similar souls” (107). Although we perceive everyone to be different, being different makes us all the same. Western culture is dominant, and shows no discrimination to the oppressed. If borders become more porous, borders could cease to exist.

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