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

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How is the the title "This Is What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona" significant to the story?

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The title is significant because, like the mythological creature the city is named for, Victor experiences rebirth through his journey to deal with his father's ashes.

A phoenix bursts into flame at the end of its life and is reborn again. It grows, matures, changes, and then burns out so that it can be reborn. This is where the name of the city comes from and it is this idea of rebirth that Alexie is treating in the story. Just as a phoenix has to change and be set on fire in order to be reborn from the ashes, so too does Victor have to change, with the help of Thomas Builds-the-Fire, as they...

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miztheatre | Student

The meaning of Sherman Alexie's “This Is What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona” is amplified by the story's symbolism. The story's title, among other elements in this story, is significant. Phoenix is not only a city in Arizona but also the name of a bird in Egyptian mythology that rises from its own ashes and is reborn, making it a symbol of immortality and regeneration. Victor and Thomas Builds-the-Fire travel to Phoenix and, in the hot Arizona summer, step inside Victor's father's trailer to reclaim, literally and figuratively, that which has been lost. It is not only Victor's father's ashes, but also the ashes of Victor's own life, which Victor seems ready to grasp by this story's end. Thomas Builds-the-Fire is the character and agent, as his name literally indicates, who has built the fire under Victor.

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lolalicious | Student

Think of how a phoenix can be reborn. The story is about a sort of rebirth for Victor where he finds himself, thanks to Thomas-Builds-the-Fire. Victor comes to peace with himself, where before he was very angry. His self-discovery is similar to the rebirth of a phoenix (the bird).

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