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Analysis Of This Is What It Means To Say Phoenix, Arizona

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The theme in a story is the message or big idea that the author is trying to reveal in his or her narrative. If there was no underlining theme in Sherman Alexie’s short story, “This Is What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona” then readers would have no interest in reading the fictional story. Understanding the message that Alexie is trying to display to his readers can vary in many ways and depends on the reader 's understanding of the story. Strong themes that are presented in the fictional tale are man versus self conflict, family, and tribal identity. Victor is a tribal member that has had a rough life and has to deal with his father passing away. Not only does he have to come to terms with his father 's death, but he also has to face his…show more content…
Victor’s father left his family because according to Thomas, “when they were seven years old, when Victor’s father still lived with the family, Thomas closed his eyes and told Victor this story: your father’s heart is weak. He is afraid of his own family, he is afraid of you. Late at night he sits in the dark. Watches the television until there’s nothing but white noise. Sometimes he feels like he wants to buy a motorcycle and ride away. He wants to run and hide. He doesn’t want to be found” (512). When Victor’s father left, he never truly forgave him. Readers know that because of the details told at the beginning of the story and through the quote that was used in the second paragraph. Although he felt some resentment towards his father, he still felt obligated to bring him back to the reservation. That is where the theme of family comes into the story. Victor’s father died in his hot trailer and was not found for at least a week. Victor knew the trailer his father was staying had to have smelt ripe. But he did not care, as explained in the story, he says,“but there might be something valuable in there and I was talking about pictures and letters and stuff like that” (515). The trip that Victor made to Phoenix was a family journey. That long trip had taught Victor about himself and most importantly about his father. The grief that was bottled up inside was finally being put to rest now…show more content…
Victor knew he was a Native American that lived on the reservation. However, as he has grown up, it seems he has forgotten the tribal ties of the Native Americans. The people of that culture consider everyone in the tribe to be family and they are not ashamed of who they are and where they come from. Towards the end of the fictional narrative it is said, “Victor was ashamed of himself. Whatever happened to the tribal ties, the sense of community? The only real thing he shared with anybody was a bottle and broken dreams. He owed Thomas something, anything” (519). At the end of the story, Victor has finally realize that he is acting self absorbed. He realizes that this is not who he wants to be and he should not be ashamed to talk to Thomas Builds-a-Fire. Remembering his tribal ties, Victor gives half of his father 's ashes to Thomas. By doing that, Victor is thanking Thomas in his own way. Victor said, “listen, and handed Thomas the cardboard box which contained half of his father. “I want you to have this” (519). Individuals on the reservation thought Thomas was just a madman with weird stories. But in reality he was always true to his tribal identity and has even taught Victor how to get back to that. For example Thomas says, “I’m going to travel to Spokane Falls one last time and toss these ashes into the water. And your father will rise like a salmon, leap over the bridge, over me, and find his way
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