Reservation Blues

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In Reservation Blues, Sherman Alexie extensively uses dreams to portray the relationship between white people and Native Americans. The dreams depict a constant struggle between the two societies, as well as a gradual extinction of the Indian culture. A complete picture of the Native American way of life could be seen from examining these dreams—and its not a pretty one. None of the dreams are positive or reveal anything good about the Indian way of life. If anything, Sherman Alexie tries to show the humiliation and poverty that the Native Americans are forced to live in, all the while being scolded by whites for rebelling against this degrading way of life.

Through his use of dreams as a portal to express his opinions, Sherman Alexie brings out a number of issues concerning the Native Americans that would not be obvious to an outsider. One of such issues is the amount of coverage that the Indians get by the media. Since they have been forced to move to the reservations, Indians (aside from stereotypical Westerns) have practically disappeared off the television screens. That, in itself is very unfortunate. Had the general population of US witnessed the level of life of the Native Americans, the reservations would undoubtedly get aid that they desperately need. Another negative aspect of inadequate media coverage is that the Indians do not have any cultural role models to look up to. All they see on TV or hear about on the radio are the achievements of white man. Sherman Alexie very effectively portrays that in the book through one of Thomas's dreams: "He turned on his…television to watch white people live. [It] constantly reminded Thomas of all he never owned. Thomas searched the television for evidence of Indians…until his hands ached."

Another theme that seems to appear in most of the dreams in the book is the treatment of Native Americans by the white people. It is always shown in negative light. Victor has a dream about big, powerful white people...
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