In-depth Analysis of Flight
September 24, 2014
In Sherman Alexie’s novel Flight the main character, Zits, struggles with the loss of his mother, finding his Native American identity, and figuring out where he belongs in the world. At the beginning of the novel, Zits is a distraught adolescent. He is famous for arson, abuses his many foster mothers, and runs away a lot. Zits travels through time and sees that violence and evil aren’t the solution to his problems and is then able to turn himself into the police and begin a new life as a more prominent person. The novel is told from Zit’s point of view in first person so the reader is able to see all of his thoughts.
A major conflict of Flight is man versus society. Zits is a delinquent that has been constantly put down by the general public. Zits shared, “I recognize his voice. I know this guy. He’s arrested me a few dozen times.”(Alexie 17) He has committed innumerable crimes and been to juvie several times. In this quote he is referring to Officer Dave who has made some of his arrests. Society expects him to misbehave and break the law because it’s how he has been for so long. He also has no parents or family to teach him to act differently. As Zits is about to shoot up a bank, he goes on a time travel. He visits various locations, events from history, and people’s bodies. By the end of his journey, he discovers that he no longer wants to be seen as a criminal. He turns himself into the police and Officer Dave rescues him from the foster system. Zits revises his way of life and tries to do the right thing. He works towards becoming a good citizen beginning with not running away from his new home and being respectful towards Officer Dave and his brother.
Zits also grappled with the conflict man versus self. The novel begins with Zits introducing himself. “Call me Zits. Everybody calls me Zits. That’s not my real name, of course. My real name isn’t important.” (Alexie 1). Zits will not reveal what his real name is because he thinks it’s insignificant since he doesn’t know his true identity. His Irish mother passed away when he was six years old and his Native American father left right after he was born. The lack of his parents has tremendously affected his life. Zits said, “I am Irish and Indian, which would be the coolest blend in the world if my parents were around to teach me how to be Irish and Indian. But they’re not here and haven’t been for years, so I’m not really Irish or Indian. I’m a blank sky, a human solar eclipse.” (Alexie 5) After Zits time travel, he moves into Officer Dave’s brother’s house. Dave and his brother offer to take him to see a baseball game. His new foster mom presents him with face soap and demonstrates how one should take care of their skin so that their acne will clear up. At last, Zits feels like he has found a place in society where he pertains. He finally says, “My real name is Michael. Please, call me Michael.”(Alexie 181)
One literary element that is very prominent in this book is the characterization of Zits. The name “Zits” came from the appearance of his face as well as the self-consciousness he feels towards his acne. After his mother’s bereavement, Zits lived with his only family member, his mom’s sister. Her boyfriend physically and sexually abused him. When Zits left their home, he lived in twenty-one different foster homes with only white foster parents. He wondered why and hoped to eventually get placed with a Native American family because he was struggling with learning about that part of who he is. He was always very heavy-hearted and he felt that no one ever understood him. All of his belongings could fit into one backpack. He was a victim of physical, mental, and sexual abuse. At the last foster home, as he had done at all of the others, he pushed his foster mom and ran out. Officer Dave, who knew Zits...
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