Sherman Alexie 's The Lone Ranger And Tonto Fistfight Essay

Sherman Alexie 's The Lone Ranger And Tonto Fistfight Essay

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Sherman Alexie’s short stories have the point of view from the white man’s Indian, who narrates stories that have negative stereotypes and assumptions about American Indians. However, Sherman Alexie’s collection of short stories persuades the reader to unlearn these prescribed stereotypes about Native culture. Alexie challenges the Western discourse by offering new insights about life the reservation and by rejecting the image of victimized American Indian. Kathleen Carroll in “Ceremonial Tradition as Form and Theme in Sherman Alexie’s The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven,” argues that, “The rhetorical mixing of language that imbues the present with a past for which whites harbor guilt reminds readers that modern Indian identity has been shaped by the history of white colonialism” (79). I would argue that Alexie’s fiction decides to embrace the white man’s Indian narration to illustrate how destructive it is to the American Indian identity. The culture is unable to escape these boundaries placed by white culture and Alexie wants his stories to portray guilt from the white culture creating a conception of their own about Native culture.
The short story, “The Only Traffic Signal on the Reservation Doesn’t Flash Red Anymore,” subverts the harmful stereotypes of Indians by including “heroes” on the reservation that play basketball and the decision from some Indians to stay sober. At the beginning of the chapter, Victor reminds Adrian that, “Hey, we don’t drink no more, remember? How about a Diet Pepsi?” (Alexie 44). Instead of two intoxicated Indian men sitting on the porch commenting on tribe members passing by, they are sober. Adrian comments on how Julius Windmaker looks promising as a rising basketball star and Victor rep...


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... is still putting up a fight even when former tribe members face defeat because there are little warriors to still battle against the harmful stereotypes instilled by the white culture. These small victories that several characters have in Alexie’s fiction, like Victor, Norma Jean, Thomas Builds-the-Fire and James, acknowledge how Alexie suggests that the American Indians are no longer a defeated people.
In order to reject the victimized and hopeless images of American Indians, the tribe members must actively do something to correct this. Alexie clearly expresses that if the Indians do not take direct action, then nothing will change. The white culture’s dominant representations of Indians will not change unless the Native people have a voice. The reservation community can renew the meaning of American Indian identity by focusing on the past traditions and customs.

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