Posted: December 2nd, 2013
Essay over assigned readings
Sherman Joseph Alexie is a talented writer, poet, comedian and filmmaker. He has written a number of books all centered on his experiences while growing up. Most of his books are about the Native Americans. One of his accredited short stories is, “This Is What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona.” The story is about two boys and their experiences growing up. The writer tries to show the stages in the rites of passage among Native Americans. The writer has employed the use of flashbacks to show readers how the two protagonists grew up to the present.
The main characters in the story are Victor and Thomas. The two men were friends earlier on in life, but their friendship ended somewhere along the way. In the present, Victor’s father has just passed away, and he does not have enough money to go get his body in Phoenix. He approached the council to loan him money, but they did not have in their kitty. He opted to be given a hundred dollars, which was not enough for the trip he wanted to take. His childhood friend, Thomas opts to help him out. Though Victor is hesitant at first, he accepts Thomas’ offer.
Victor is guilty of how he used to treat Thomas when they were younger. From the first flashback, the writer gives the impression that the two were great friends. They did everything together as they enjoyed each other’s company. As time went by, the two boys grew apart. Their friendship deteriorated as is seen in the second flashback where they were fighting. The writer says, “Victor was really drunk and beat Thomas up for no reason at all.” This shows the dislike that Victor had for Thomas. He however regretted this very much as when he needed help the person he least expected was there to help him out.
Thomas is a good-natured person who does not care what people think about him. He is a loner in the story and does not care what people say about him. He is a storyteller and insists on telling people his stories. For this reason, everyone in that town seems to avoid him. The writer uses him to pass on tribal knowledge to the tribe. Though no one pays any attention to him, he has a lot of wisdom to share. He accompanies Victor to get his father’s remains. During this trip, he and Victor are able to reconnect and know why they were friends in the first place. His good-natured ways help them make friends with an Olympic gymnast on the plane. Victor thinks to himself how no one at home would believe that it was Thomas flirting with a beautiful woman. This is because he is despised him at home.
Thomas is used by the writer to enable a smooth transition of flashbacks. He tells Victor how his deceased father had helped him in the past. He acts as a form of solace to Victor as he is there for him in his time of need. Thomas helps Victor come into terms with the death of his father. Through him, Victor reconnects with his own identity as a person. Victor looks at himself in a new light. He is not only an Indian, but also a person who has a role to play in the community as a whole. Thomas highlights the person Victor is by giving a reflection of who he is and should strive to be.
At the end of the story, Victor gives the impression he is a changed person. He talks to Thomas kindly and appreciates his company. Thomas showed his selflessness by agreeing to go with Victor to Phoenix. He helped him out throughout the grieving process. He went out of his way to help. This is seen when he offers to drive when Victor is too tired to do so. Victor agrees to listen to one of Thomas’ stories the next time they meet. This shows that Thomas’ good nature has made a positive impact to Victor’s behavior.
Through this story, the writer has educated the readers about Indian livelihood. He talks about the importance of loyalty to ones relatives and joy of forgiveness. Alexie shows how essential it is to have a heart for the grieving in society. Thomas is used to show how true friends should be there for each other. Regardless of what Victor had done to him before, Thomas still had the heart and grace to forgive him. This is a beautiful story of how good friends should always be there for one another. Though Thomas and Victor’s bond had been broken, they still found a way of reconciling in the end. The two friends had to stop being friends so that when they reconcile they will value their friendship more. Alexie is truly a talented writer as he makes his readers think more about friendship.
Place an order in 3 easy steps. Takes less than 5 mins.