This Is What It Means To Say Phoenix Arizona Analysis Essay

Literary Analysis Of Sherman J. Alexie’s This Is What It Means To Say Phoenix, Arizona

Analysis of “This Is What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona”

In life, everyone experiences a time of hardship, and for the most part, those affected find methods of overcoming the adversity. The idea of getting through hardship is best reflected in; Sherman J. Alexie’s story “This Is What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona” (274). In the story, victor whose father had recently died from a heart attack has to travel to phoenix Arizona to reclaim his father’s ashes and his truck. Victor is joined by his former childhood friend “Thomas Builds-the-fire”, who finances the trip to phoenix since Victor did not have the means. They drove back truck from phoenix to the reservation. Throughout the trip, Thomas is always telling stories mostly reminiscing about their childhood. It is through Thomas stories that we learn much about Victor’s father. Through the use of symbolism, and character development, Alexie conveys the idea that, when someone is experiencing an adversity, reconnecting and embracing the past may lead to a discovery of a brighter future.
Occasionally, when someone is going through a difficult time, they possibly will feel that the universe is not in their favor, and a sense of hopelessness may set in. Victor was having a hard time financially. Before receiving the news of his father’s death, he had lost his job with the “Bureau of Indian Affairs” (274). With nowhere else to turn for help, victor contacted the tribal council for assistance. The tribal council itself was “having a difficult time financially”, and could only assist him with a hundred dollars which was not nearly enough to fund his trip to phoenix (275). With only a hundred dollars, victor’s circumstances were becoming more complex to manage. Victor’s problems were piling up one on top of the other. Losing a job is an overwhelming endeavor to overcome. But losing both a job and a family member simultaneously can leave anyone with an immense suffering. Although Victor had not seen his father in several years, upon receiving the news of his passing, “there was still genetic pain, which was as real and immediate as a broken bone” (275).
Whether someone believes that they have burned the bridges behind them, it is still worth exploring lost connections especially during a period of misfortunes. A number of people are keen to give assistance regardless of the past events. On several occasions, Victor had treated Thomas very poorly in the past. On one occasion, when they were fifteen years old, “victor was really drunk and beat Thomas up for no reason at all” (277). Despite their past, when victor was in need, Thomas was willing to lend him everything he had saved up. Thomas was willing to...

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Conflict in This is What it Means to say Phoenix, Arizona

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This is What it Means to say Phoenix, Arizona

Walking down the hall, you notice him. Everyone avoids him and ignores the fact that he exists. You know who he is but your are hesitant in approaching him because you know of the consequences. He’s not part of the crowd and to acknowledge him will mean turmoil for you. It’s starts out with teasing and joking and slowly develops into bulling, but you can avoid that if you just turn around. In the story, “This is What it Means to say Phoenix, Arizona,” Sherman Alexie explores life by including generally recognized conflicts. Although typical, the conflicts that Victor encounters occur in more than one aspect of life at once. Some are resolvable, but true to life, some are not. The most apparent conflict in the story is the relationship between Thomas Builds the Fire and Victor. Through the death of Victor’s father, they have come together.
As the story begins, the narrator, Victor not only “lost his job at the Bureau of Indian Affairs, he also found out that his father had died of a heart attack in Phoenix, Arizona” (181). Having little money to make the trip to Phoenix, Victor decides to ask to Tribal council for assistance. However, the tribal refuses to provide the full amount of his request because they did not “have enough to bring [his] father all the way back from Phoenix” (181). In desperation, Victor turns to Thomas Builds-the-Fire, an old childhood friend, for help. At first, Victor refuses help from Thomas because of his strange and unpopular reputation. Thomas is known as the reservation’s storyteller who shared stories and continued telling stories even after people stopped listening. However, as he becomes weary, he finally is able to negotiate a plan with Thomas. The plan includes Thomas traveling with Victor to and from Phoenix.
During the trip, Victor reflects on his past experiences with Thomas. At fifteen, they “had long since stopped being friends [and] got into a fistfight” (183). As adults, though they would often see each other on the reservation, however they would rarely interact. As an opportunity arises, when they arrived to his father’s trailer in Arizona, Victor finally apologizes to Thomas. He adds, “I never told you I was sorry for beating you up that time” (185) and accepts him for who he is.

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Phoenix         Arizona         Heart Attack         Childhood Friend         Sherman Alexie         Reservation         Tribal         Encounters         Storyteller         Desperation        




In attempt to relinquish any grudges, Victor agrees to hear just one more story, as their trips comes to a close.
With inheritance money in mind, two childhood friends traveled to Phoenix for a pick-up truck, a few hundred dollars, two boxes of ashes, but most importantly an understanding of one another. In “This is What it Means to say Phoenix, Arizona,” Alexie, using conflicts of everyday life, adds an inside glimpse of life on an Indian reservation as he presents a parallel between the two characters in the story.



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