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This Is What It Means To Say Phoenix, Arizona

Free «This Is What It Means To Say Phoenix, Arizona» Essay Sample

Symbolism used in the book “This Is What It Means To Say Phoenix, Arizona”, captures the Native American perspective of the characters in the book. As such, the author employs symbolism in the quest to represent varied idealism with the characters in the book. As such, symbolism assists in depicting the relationship between the main characters as well as presents the cultural concepts among the natives. As such, this paper seeks to present the symbolism as well as illustrate the importance of the aspect.

In the story, it is the journey that depicts the plot. Through flashbacks, the readers hear about the struggle of the characters. The author tells the stories throughout the story as both stereotype image of an old shamanistic tradition. As such, the author employs symbolism in his quest to capture the readers as well as present the meaning of the symbols in a disguised sequence.

In the story, “This is what It Means To Say Phoenix, Arizona”, the author, Sherman Alexies incorporates symbolism in presenting the difference between the two main characters; Victor and Thomas Builds-the fire as well as presenting the relationships between the two. During their early lives, the two grew together as friends. As time went by, the two main characters grew apart. Consequently, Thomas followed his dreams and acted on what he perceived in his mind. As such, he attempts to enlighten the other s with retrospect to his life. Undoubtedly, Victor reserved his mind into the Indians reservation that balked at Thomas, his stories, dreams and ambitions.

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As such, Phoenix is a mythical bird with flames that continues to be reborn from its own ashes. As the story unfolds, Thomas attempted to jump off the roof of the school, flapped his arms for a moment, and then flew. On the other hand, Alexies writes that he hover over the rest of the boys for a moment then falls on the ground (p, 280).

Thomas is a living symbol of the Native American culture; he is a storyteller, a role that holds much importance. On the other hand, Thomas irritates Victor, but not due to his wrong doings but Thomas forms as a constant reminder of what he is not. As such, Thomas is comfortable with himself whereas Victor is not. Nevertheless, the exasperated societal condition as a result of European invasion is not unique to Native Americans. Victor’s self bitterness stems from the deeply embedded conflict that Native Americans face in American society.

On the other hand, the author builds a fire in the stories as a symbol for the cultural history as well as the savior of Native Americans. As such, Alexie uses the persecution and rejection of Thomas builds-a-Fire to convey the fighting of the Native Americans amongst the natives.


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Throughout the story, the people perceive Thomas as an outsider. In numerous instances in the book, Thomas description asserts that he is one that others are reluctant to hear speak as he is constantly narrating stories regarding Native Americans. As such, Thomas represents the Spoken traditions as well as the cultural past that they are losing.

In a drug referred to as tradition Victor and his friend invite Thomas to join them on an outing but stops from narrating his stories to his friend as they were boring (p, 14). As such, he is a symbol of the Native Americans ambivalence with their culture as well as uneasiness with their own past. The natives do not want a reminder of their culture which they are trying to escape. This neglect of stories acts as symbolism of the Native American’s intentional loss of culture.

Through symbolism, Alexie allows readers realize the relationship of Thomas and Victor, as conflicting yet they were childhood friends. The symbols help the reader get a better picture of how different the two had become and how the bond rejuvenates through the experience they had.

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