Is John the killer in Indian Killer?

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Indian Killer does not definitively answer your question. The novel is written from many different perspectives and changes its point of view throughout. The first point of view is an account about John Smith by the main character, Jack Wilson. Jack Wilson is a white cop who creates fictitious Native...

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Indian Killer does not definitively answer your question. The novel is written from many different perspectives and changes its point of view throughout. The first point of view is an account about John Smith by the main character, Jack Wilson. Jack Wilson is a white cop who creates fictitious Native American ancestry for himself. He writes a novel about the story of John Smith, a Native boy who is raised by white foster parents. Mainly, the novel discuss how John Smith feels a sense of loss in his connection to his Indian heritage. John writes his stories as an individual who is not accepted within mainstream society. This leads to his desire to seek retribution and kill white people as a way of connecting to his lost heritage. Parts of the novel are then written from the viewpoints of the victims and other characters he comes into contact with. After John's suicide, it seems that the city of Seattle and many of the characters John has come into contact with believe he was the Indian Killer. It would seem that Jack Wilson has written his John Smith as the killer. However, Sherman Alexie does not definitively answer this at the end. The story leaves the answer to this question up to the reader.

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Indian Killer is a novel by Sherman Alexie. It focuses on the life of John Smith, who was born to an Indian mother but was taken from her and given to a well-off white couple. As John grows up, he never quite feels comfortable with his identity. Eventually, he begins to believe that as an Indian, he'll never belong in mainstream, white culture. However, John also has no experience living with Native Americans. He is stuck between two worlds.

After moving to Seattle, John hatches a plan. He decides he will kill white people as a means of earning acceptance into Native American society. The results of John's actions shock mainstream society. Conservative talk show hosts demonize him. Native Americans begin criticizing whites and how they profit off of Native American lives and culture. Ultimately, John's actions spark a heated debate about how Native Americans and whites should live together in the modern world.

Your question about whether or not John is actually the killer is never answered by Sherman Alexie himself. However, John is explicitly named the killer in the novel within the novel, which is written by the character Jack Wilson. When thinking about the discussion in this novel, this makes sense. The white character, Jack Wilson, explicitly names the Indian, John, as the killer. However, Sherman Alexie, who is a Native American himself, does not do so. Perhaps Alexie is telling us, his readers, that the killings aren't as black and white as they appear to be.

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The killer in, Sherman Alexie's novel Indian Killer, can be defined in two very different ways. First, the novel within the novel (Jack Wilson's Indian Killer) blatantly states who the killer is: John Smith. That said, the killer in the actual novel (the one written by Alexie) is never named.

Many times throughout the novel the identity of the killer is alluded to. Unfortunately for the reader, each time this happens, the assumed killer is exonerated (in a sense). At two points in the novel, Marie states that the killer can not be an Indian. Given that John Smith is Indian (kidnapped from his Native American home/parents and adopted to a White family), Marie's statement would take Smith out of the list of possible suspects.

In the end, it does not seem to be important who the killer is. Instead, the killer is more important given what he represents (which differs with each critical lens applied to the novel). In one way, the killer can be seen as the manifestation of John Smith's rage.

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