Reservation Blues

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In the novel Reservation Blues, Sherman Alexie utilizes the characters dreams to illustrate the relationship between the Native Americans and the white people. These dreams show an ongoing struggle amongst the two societies, in addition to the deterioration of the Indian culture. These dreams are better described as nightmares because not a single one of the dreams are positive and bare anything respectable about the Native American society. Sherman Alexie attempts to disclose the humiliation and poverty that the Native Americans have to endure, all the while being scolded by whites for rebelling against this degrading way of life.

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.”

Victor has a dream about big, powerful white people “shoveling hair into burning barrels, furnaces, and open fires. Long, black hair.” In Father Arnold’s dream, the white men rely on the Indians’ faith to keep the latter in control. The missionaries basically force the Indians into submission through the use of fear, all the while claiming to be acting in the name of G-d and spreading the religious doctrine. Sometimes, the white people would hurt and kill the Indians, while making it look like the Indians are being repented and the white missionaries are just doing the Native Americans a favor. Checkers dream signifies that when Father Arnold keeps saying, “I forgive you” upon entering (and thus, hurting) her.

Throughout most dreams, Sherman Alexie seems to be blaming the white people (and rightfully so) for the destruction of Native American culture and heritage. Obviously, if it wasn’t for the whites, the Indians wouldn’t be huddled together on reservations, living off government rationed food, and dying from alcohol. However, Alexie points out the...
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