- SparkNotes: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian: Themes
- Sherman Alexie
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SparkNotes: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian: Themes
However, it is precisely this complexity and plasticity that allow him to negotiate successfully the differences between Indian communities and mainstream American society, while simultaneously instigating crucial dialogue about social and moral issues especially important to Indian communities. Humor is defined by its fluidity, its paradoxes, and its ability to surprise.
In a discussion of Native American Indian creativity in Mixedblood Messages, Louis Owens helpfully conceptualizes a literary postmodern "frontier" as "always unstable, multidirectional, hybridized, characterized by heteroglossia, and indeterminate" More importantly, within this "frontier" exists "the dangerous presence of that trickster at the heart of the Native American imagination" Project MUSE promotes the creation and dissemination of essential humanities and social science resources through collaboration with libraries, publishers, and scholars worldwide.
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Contact Contact Us Help. Indeed, the technology itself — TV, radio, even traffic signals — serves as a reminder of the outside influence oozing in, and its inevitable use by Native Americans is another sign of their surrender. Alexie uses technology in his book to highlight such instances of irony. In fact, one would be hard-pressed to find any character interacting with the TV for longer than a sentence, yet its presence is undeniable; it gives all of the characters a connection to the outside world.
Few Indians in the book venture beyond the reservation, yet none are totally clueless about outside society in general or, more specifically, about how that society sees them. References to Indians in popular culture, like comparisons to Tonto , , are made frequently to highlight the large gap between how Indians are perceived and how they really act.
Most interestingly, it also gives these characters a window through which to see their own world.
The events unfolding on television give these characters another backdrop against which to situate their lives, making their problems seem a little less daunting and a little more universal. Alexie uses this narrative technique to quite literally show the negative impact of television, or technology in general, on these characters. The television, a symbol of sedentary and passive involvement, contrasts the punch of these events in an ironic way that Alexie is fond of.
These characters are finding solace and pleasure in new, modern things, only to have them slowly disappear. Both found pleasure in this foreign recording in a purely sonic way. The two friends are doing what they do best: reminiscing, joking with each other, and quietly passing the day away. It is in this state that this sort of technology is especially jarring and unnecessary to them; the traffic signal is broken and meaningless, a symbol of white attempts to intervene. The road was fine before it was installed.
Even in the admittedly obtuse story title, we see a train as some sort of charging and the inevitable series of events that will cause something to happen, so we as readers wait for it to show up. Samuel was drunk and suicidal; the train was merely doing what it was made for. The two of them together make up this bizarre, unsettling event. Alexie highlights the blind, mechanical fury of technology by coupling it with the humanistic and flawed nature of Samuel, who represents all Native Americans: whimsical, impulsive and curious.
watch He shows, quite starkly, that these two things together do not produce a happy result. Alexie uses technology to create irony because it represents modernity.
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It works so well for him because Indians use this technology and it interacts with them; it is one aspect of the newer way of life that they simultaneously resent and resign themselves to. No matter how hard these characters work to keep their pride and traditions strong, the very real image of a Native American family huddled around the TV set undoes that work. Deep down, this use of technology in his books to highlight irony stems from a hatred of what this technology has done not only for the Native American way of life, but for life in general.
It has reduced personal communication and desensitized people to the benefits of hard work and individual perseverance. Remember: This is just a sample from a fellow student. Sorry, copying is not allowed on our website. We will occasionally send you account related emails.
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