This Is What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona Questions and Answers
by Sherman Alexie

This Is What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona book cover
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Discuss the settings of the story "This Is What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona."

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Philip Arrington eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In the humorous but poignant short story "This Is What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona" by Sherman Alexie, a Native American named Victor hears that his father has died in Phoenix, Arizona. Victor needs to go there to collect the ashes, a pickup truck, and a few other personal effects. A storyteller named Thomas Builds-the-Fire decides to accompany him and to help finance the journey. Each of the settings in the story progresses the plot and contributes to the underlying themes of friendship, respect for elders, and the preservation of values through storytelling.

The first setting is the...

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carol-davis eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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judyd3 | Student

Airplane - There are several important concepts here. First of all, Victor is embarrassed by Thomas and his comfort in speaking to strangers. It also points out the connection between the Native Americans and the gymnist - - the government has "screwed" them both.

 

The ride through Nevada:  "The only thing alive in this state and we just killed it." They couldn't accept it and had to admit that it must have been suicide.

 

Trailer - "Your dad was my vision. Take care of each other." This is the main theme of the story.

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