January 31 2014
Plot “This is what it means to say Phoenix,Arizona”
“This is what it means to say Phoenix, Arizona” by Sherman Alexie is about the life struggles of two American Indians named Victor and Thomas Builds-the-Fire. Victor,the protagonist, has not only lost his job but his father as well. With the aid of Thomas he will travel to collect his father’s remains and estate. This story is neatly structured in a standard plot line format, built around the death of and retrieval of Victor’s father and his property. Through the use of several flashbacks, from the firework show at age seven,when ten and Victor liked Thomas’ stories, at twelve Victor stepped in wasp nest and Thomas saved him,and when 15 and not friends anymore, all the relevant information concerning the struggle and history of the characters is revealed.
The story centers around Victor’s difficulty in raising funds to get from the reservation to Phoenix, Arizona. He lives a typical life on the reservation.“Victor didn’t have any money.Who does have money on a reservation...”(129) Victor asks for help from the Tribal Council but only gets one hundred dollars. This is not enough to fly to Phoenix or return with his father’s truck or other possessions, but Victor accepts any way. While getting this cheque cashed, Victor sees Thomas Builds-the-Fire in the Trading Post. Thomas Builds-the-Fire, Victor’s childhood friend, offers to help. “He knew he needed Thomas Builds-the-Fire.”(131) Victor reluctantly accepts due to the fact that they haven’t been friends for many years. Victor remembers “When they were fifteen and had long since stopped being friends, Victor and Thomas got into a fistfight.”(131) Victor has become the typical American Indian on the reservation. He doesn’t want to be ostracised because he is socializing with Thomas Builds-the-Fire, even though Thomas is the only person that has been there for him time and time again. This shows...
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