Sherman Alexie Uses Humor

Topics: Cancer, Terminal illness, Comedy Pages: 2 (703 words) Published: December 2, 2012
Alexie uses humor--or his characters use humor-to reveal injustice, protect selfesteem,heal wounds, and create bonds. Alexie's sophisticated use of humor unsettles conventional ways of thinking and compels re-evaluation and growth, which ultimately allows Indian characters to connect to their heritage in novel ways and forces non-Indian readers to reconsider simplistic generalizations. Alexie's cross-cultural humor alternately engages readers--creating positive connections between individuals of diverse backgrounds-and disrupts communities (both Indian and white), erecting barriers that make onstructive communication difficult. Here lies its principle challenge for readers. Alexie's shifting treatment of humor serves as a means of connection as well as an instrument of separation. However, it is precisely this complexity and plasticity that allow him to negotiate successfully the differences between Indian communities and mainstream American society, while simultaneously instigating crucial dialogue about social and moral issues especially important to Indian communities.

Alexie uses humor to add a new element to it, one that extends beyond resistance (although that is certainly part of it). Alexie challenges readers of diverse backgrounds to join together to re-evaluate past and present ideologies. Humor generates a freely occupied space in which readers can begin sorting through the myriad connections and disconnections that face us all With its shifting layers and elaborate surprises, Alexie's humor disrupts readers' complacency and necessitates analysis, clarification, and, ultimately, identification. reducing it to-a mere game. His humor seems like an effort to hide from the reality of cancer.

From this vantage, Jimmy's joking might reflect the concerns of those critics who feel that Alexie wants to ignore real threats to Indian cultures and identities. Alexie's humor is sometimes viewed as a screen that belies the inner hurt and anger felt by many...
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