This Is What It Means To Say Phoenix, Arizona
“This Is What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona,” by Sherman Alexie, is a short story based on the friendship of two Native American men, who over time lost the bond they once shared, but because of a recent event, are brought together again to recount old memories, and create new ones. Alexie does an outstanding job bringing forth a friendship all can relate to, and also he shares the bond that these two men still have. Throughout the short story, Alexie uses present action, and also flashbacks to share with readers the hidden meanings that are buried deeper within the text. Furthermore, his short story seems to tie in with his own heritage of growing up a Native American on a reservation. The short story begins with the introduction of the first main character named Victor. Victor just lost his job, and also found out his father, who lives in Phoenix, Arizona, has recently died from an apparent heart attack. Victor, who is broke, needs to get down to Phoenix to retrieve his cremated father, and also grab an old pickup truck and a few hundred dollars his father has left behind. He turns to the Tribal Council in hopes to get some cash for his trip, but is disappointed when all they can do is give him a hundred dollars. Here, Alexie depicts Victor as a poor, sheltered Native American living on a reservation. Alexie himself has also been self described as a “sheltered, small town, rez, Eastern Washington kid” (Capriccioso). Victor wanders off to cash his check when he bumps into his childhood friend, Thomas Builds-the-Fire. Thomas Builds-the-Fire is the second main character in this short story. Thomas is basically a town outcast who nobody wants or needs around. Like a dentist in a town where everybody has false teeth (Alexie 910). Thomas is always outspoken and always has a strange story to share. In an piece Alexie writes in Time magazine, he talks about the character Thomas-Builds the fire. He states that Thomas...
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