This Is What It Means To Say Phoenix, Arizona: Stereotypes

analytical Essay
1195 words
1195 words

“This Is What It Means To Say Phoenix, Arizona” discusses the physical and mental journey of Victor, a Native American man in the state of Washington, as he goes to Phoenix, Arizona to claim his father’s remains and his savings account. While on this journey, Victor learns about himself, his father, and his Indian culture with the help of his estranged friend, Thomas Builds-the–Fire. The author, Sherman Alexie, plays on the stereotypes of Native Americans through the characters of Victor and Thomas. While Thomas is portrayed as the more traditional and “good” Native American, Victor comes across as the “bad” Native American. Through the use of this binary relationship, Alexie is able to illustrate the transformation of these characters as they reconcile with each other, and break out of these stereotypes in the process.

In “This Is What It Means To Say Phoenix, Arizona,” Alexie creates a story that captures the common stereotypes of Native Americans. For instance, in the story the narrator states, “Who does have money on a reservation, except the cigarette and fireworks salespeople?” (Alexie). This quotation shows that the narrator addresses the idea that all Native Americans must own businesses that sell fireworks and/ or cigarettes in order to be successful. In this example, Victor is shown to not identify with the Native Americans because he does not pursue the same job opportunities as many Native Americans do. Victor's character is used as a contrast to the stereotypes that , there he represents reality. Another instance in which the author incorporates a stereotype about Native Americans is when Thomas-Builds-the-Fire first makes conversation with Victor. Thomas-Builds-the-Fire informs Victor about the news of Victor's ...

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...ce afterwards” (Alexie). This quote shows that Thomas has become less persistent as he finally creates a new story to tell.

In conclusion, Sherman Alexie created a story to demonstrate the stereotypes people have created for Native Americans. The author is able to do this by creating characters that present both the negative and positive stereotypes that have been given to Native Americans. Alexie has a Native American background. By writing a short story that depicts the life of an Indian, the reader also gets a glimpse of the stereotypes encountered by Alexie. From this short story readers are able to learn the importance of having an identity while also seeing how stereotypes are used by many people. In the end of the story, both Victor and Thomas are able to have an understanding of each other as the can finally relate with each other through Victor's father.

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how sherman alexie plays on the stereotypes of native americans through the characters of victor and thomas.
  • Analyzes how alexie's "this is what it means to say phoenix, arizona" captures the common stereotypes of native americans.
  • Analyzes how stereotypes are shown in the story through the binary depictions of victor and thomas builds-the-fire.
  • Analyzes the binary between thomas and victor that shows a difference between the characters. thomas is more in touch with his tradition, while victor does not.
  • Analyzes how the title of the short story, "this is what it means to say phoenix, arizona," suggests that a character in the story would experience rebirth.
  • Analyzes how the phoenix fashioned a nest of aromatic boughs andspices, set it on fire, and was consumed in the flames.
  • Concludes that sherman alexie created a story to demonstrate the stereotypes people have created for native americans.
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