This is what it means to say Phoenix Arizona

Topics: Native Americans in the United States, Meaning of life, Mississippi River Pages: 5 (1722 words) Published: August 7, 2014
Sean Luong
Jackson Whistle
English 1B
July 9, 2014
New vs Old
Slowly we see many civilizations and cultures lose themselves as time goes by. New generations start forgetting history of themselves becoming people living in the present as well as writing their own history, while others bass in the pass, never forgetting where they came from and who they are. The same happened in “This is What it means to say Phoenix Arizona”, by Sherman Alexie, the story followed two men who traveled to retrieve the remains of a deceased one while learning more about themselves and their culture. Victor and Thomas Builds-The-Fire are the two main characters that are both Native Americans and are connected through a loved one. Though they are both Native American, their heritage and traditions are actually quite different. Embodying different tradition and views in life; Thomas Builds-The-Fire, shows a deeper connection with tradition, however Victor represents a modern view severing his connections with his heritage.

Thomas Builds-The-Fire is more traditional and seems to hold a deep connection with his heritage. Thomas is known throughout the village for his envisioning stories, which come from his ability to see and hear visions or dreams. The stories itself are not popular or well-liked by members of the community. Regardless, Thomas talked to anyone, whether or not they were listening. In addition, he also spoke to inanimate objects including animals, rocks, and even walls. No matter who or what, Thomas would tell stories. Thomas Builds-The-Fire proves to be a traditional name itself. In typical Native American heritage, parents give their children names that have spiritual meaning. For example, Thomas Builds-The-Fire’s name represents the intellectual fire he starts by utilizing his tradition storytelling and having other Native Americans question their traditions, roots, culture, and values. Thomas Builds-The-Fire represents the past, a deeper connection with the Indian heritage, spiritual visions, strong connection with nature, and visions of renewal and rebirth. Thomas Builds-The-Fire is recognized for having strong connections with his Indian heritage. He has visions in which he is able to see the future or is essentially taught a deeper meaning in life. In the past, Native American’s were told to possess having visions which strengthens the fact that Thomas is viewed as traditional. Thomas follows his visions and believes it was meant to be or tries to find a reason why he was there. When Thomas was young, he had a vision to go to Spokane and wait by the falls. “I remember when I had this dream that told me to go to Spokane, to stand by the falls in the middle of the city and wait for a sign. I knew I had to go there buy I didn’t have a Car… so I walked all the way, took me all day, and I finally made it to the fall. I stood there for an hour waiting. Then your dad came walking up, ‘what the hell are you doing here?’ he asked me. I said, ‘waiting for a vision.’ Then your dad said, ‘all you’re going to get here is mugged.’ … For a long time, I was mad because I thought my dreams had lied to me, But they hadn’t. Your dad was my vision. Take care of each other is what my dreams were saying. Take care of each other” (Alexis 27.) Thomas always looked for a greater meaning through his visions, that it held a significant purpose to his future and purpose in life. Not only did he keep his Native American roots with storytelling, he held a deep bond with life around him.

Thomas Builds-The-Fire stayed true to his heritage, by staying in touch with the nature around him. Thomas had a strong connection with nature. He recognized the significance of the living creatures around him. On their trip back home from Arizona, Thomas killed an animal by accident. “‘Oh man, he’s dead,’” Victor yelled, and Thomas did stop and back the pick up to the dead jackrabbit. “Oh, man he’s dead” Victor said as he looked at the squashed animal....

Cited: Alexie, Sherman. “This Is What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona.” Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing. Ed. Kennedy, X.J. and Dana Gioia. 11th ed. New York: Pearson-Longman, 2010. 474-482. Print
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