The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven Questions and Answers
by Sherman Alexie

The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven book cover
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The story is "Every Little Hurricane." Describe the setting.

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Marietta Sadler eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In terms of its setting in time, most of the story takes place in 1976, at a New Year's Eve party. The geographical setting of "Every Little Hurricane" is the Spokane Indian Reservation. The Spokane Reservation is located in northeastern Washington, in Stevens County. One suggested meaning of the name Spokane is "Children of the Sun," which is ironic given that for most of the story the Reservation is drenched with rain. This irony is compounded by the fact that the Reservation is also described as "four hundred miles away" from the nearest ocean.

Some of the story takes place in the main character's house, where the storm raging outside is reflected by the arguments between his uncles inside the house. Throughout the story, however, Victor also remembers and dreams of other places, such as "Mother's Kitchen restaurant in Spokane," which "was always warm," and the lake that, for years, he was afraid that he was going to drown in. There are also the beaches he sees on the television, where people tie themselves to the trees hoping to feel the full force of the storm, before the trees are uprooted and swept away with the people still attached.

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The story opens the collection The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven. Because of its position, "Every Little Hurricane" introduces one of the two main narrators of the book Victor and the setting he moves about: that of the Spokane Indian Reservation. The story takes place on New Year's Eve in the year 1976 while a tumultuous party (with a lot of fighting and driking) is going on at Victor's parents' house. The confusion at the party is mirrored by the stormy weather that is about to hit the reservation. In turn, the hurricane mirrors Victor's emotional unrest and his dilemma about what to do with his painful memories: trying to come to terms with them or forget them altogether? The story contains several flashbacks about Victor's childhood, specifically to the Christmas Days of four years before. These describe a childohood of poverty and humiliation because of ethnic discrimination. Through its setting, "Every Little Hurricane" introduces the major themes of the collection, most significantly the quest for a meaningful Native American identity that can set its subjects free from white exploitation and domination.

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