In Smoke Signals, why are Thomas and Victor absolutely necessary to each other? How do they help each other grow and heal? What is the importance of their names? How are they doppelgangers of each...

In Smoke Signals, why are Thomas and Victor absolutely necessary to each other? How do they help each other grow and heal? What is the importance of their names? How are they doppelgangers of each other?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Thomas and Victor are absolutely necessary to one another because they help one another emerge into a fuller sense of identity.  Thomas' name of Builds-the-Fire is extremely important in that the "fire" that is built is one of identity.  Thomas enables Victor to find emotional "victory" over the demons and sense of pain that is intrinsic to his being in the world.  Fire transforms Victor's father's body into ashes and helps to facilitate a sense of understanding.  This is another reason why Thomas's name is significant and explains how Victor is "victorious" over the pain and doubt which have lingered around him for so long.  

Both characters are needed in order to better understand identities where parental guidance is absent and questions surrounding one's being present themselves.  Victor comes to a better understanding regarding the questions he has about his own father and his own state of being in the world both as a son and a Native American.  Thomas moves closer to understanding his own place in the world. In this regard, both are doppelgängers of one another, complementing one another in a world where there is much disunity and fragmentation.  They represent being Native American, living in a liminal condition that can be painful.  This condition is something that can be healed through finding some kind of reconciliation and restoration.  Thomas and Victor end up providing some aspect of redemption to one another in a world that lacks it.

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