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What values seem to clash in the short story "Indian Education" by Alexie?   

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vnotice | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 2, 2010 at 8:59 AM via web

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What values seem to clash in the short story "Indian Education" by Alexie?

 

 

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missy575 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 2, 2010 at 10:55 AM (Answer #1)

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If I remember correctly, Indian Education takes each year of school and tells the story of a young boy longing for a self-identity. What seems to clash here is that it feels very biographical and depicts Alexie as not much of a tough guy or cool guy, yet he has become a successful and very intelligent author.

He struggles with girls, authority, and bullies, but in the end Alexie's life is a success...

I do see the value of food in particular being a stark stand-out... Alexie notices the girls who struggle with anorexia and bulimia as compared to Indians who will stand in life for government issued food.

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Doug Stuva | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted April 2, 2010 at 11:28 AM (Answer #2)

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In Sherman Alexie's "Indian Education," bigotry and prejudice by whites and others clash against Native Americans and their values.  I use the term Native Americans for lack of a better term.  Alexie himself calls the term an oxymoron, and of course he is correct, but it's still probably better than Indian, with the history that term recalls.   

The white teacher in the white Indian school is petty and ignorant and prejudiced and tries to take the character's identity and heritage away from him.  She punishes him for "everything."  She is definitely an enlightened individual.

The Chicano teacher assumes that the protagonist is drunk when he passes out in the gym at a dance, after a basketball game in a hot gym during which he scored 27 points and pulled down 13 rebounds.  The teacher says: 

What's that boy been drinking?  I know all about these Indian kids.  They start drinking real young.

The narrator notes that, after he's transferred to a nonreservation shool (it's implied, of course, that the reservation shool is so absolutely terrible that he has to transfer if he wants any kind of future at all) and played for their basketball team, nicknamed the "Indians," that he is probably the only actual Indian to ever play for a school with such a mascot.  Whites like to take cool names from Native Americans, just like they took their lands. 

This fiction is about the clash between whiltes and others, and natives of this land. 

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