Themes and Meanings (Masterplots II: American Fiction Series, Revised Edition)
The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven deals primarily with the Native American quest for identity. The characters in the stories constantly run up against what it means to be an American and an Indian, with the twentieth century cultural icons of soft drinks, television, and convenience stores played off against the Native American values of family, community, and tradition.
In the story “The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven,” Victor lives with a white woman in Seattle, and the story chronicles the inevitable failure of the relationship as well as the suspicion he faces and the dislocation he feels in the city. In “Crazy Horse Dreams,” the question becomes one of trying to live up to the model of an ideal Indian. Victor’s relationship with an unnamed Indian woman fails because she wants the ideal. She is “waiting for Crazy Horse,” while Victor finds that he must tread the steeper path of being “just another Indian.” The broader issue of the Native American quest for a cultural identity is also a major theme of these stories. The Indian society portrayed here is caught between two worlds. On one hand, Indians desire the modern America of fancy cars and cable television, even though they realize that this is a world in which they will never feel at home. At the same time, they feel a mixed nostalgia and embarrassment toward the pull of their Native American heritage and the ingrained values and traditions of...
(The entire section is 539 words.)
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