1.In "This is What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona," there is mention of a fight between Victor and Thomas when they were younger. What does this tell us about society back then? 2. Despite...

1.In "This is What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona," there is mention of a fight between Victor and Thomas when they were younger. What does this tell us about society back then? 
2. Despite their fight, Thomas is still willing to help Victor. Why?
3.Why do you think that Thomas asked Victor for one favor at the end.
4. What does this reveal about Thomas? 

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Thomas is somewhat of a social pariah because he freely retains much of the tribal practices, one of which is his storytelling.

Thomas Builds-the-Fire walked through the corridors of the tribal school by himself. Nobody wanted to be anywhere near him because of all those stories. Story after story.

1. When he and his cousin Victor are both fifteen, a drunken Victor attacks Thomas and would have killed him if Norma Many Horses, "a warrior," had not come out because the other boys just stood around passively.  This passivity has been caused by the loss of identity in the boys on the reservation as they have been taught to shun the tribal ways and have felt the defeat of their people. (This climate on the reservation is also what has caused them to reject Thomas who retains the Indian culture in his storytelling.)

2. Thomas still feels a bond with his cousin, despite Victor's having rejected him and having fought him, perhaps, partly because he understands Victor's feelings. Also, he feels that he must fulfill a promise to Victor's father, who rescued him in Spokane when he walked there, seeking a vision.

Your father said you would need the help. He was right."
"That's why you came down here with me, isn't it?" Victor asked. "I came because of your father."

3. After they return from retrieving Victor's father's ashes and a few of his things along with his truck, Thomas tells Victor that he knows they are still not friends because his friends will tease Victor if he takes Thomas back as a friend. Thinking of what Thomas has said,

Victor was ashamed of himself. Whatever happened to the tribal ties, the sense of community? The only real thing he shared with anybody was a bottle and broken dreams. He owed Thomas something, anything. 

Like Victor's father, Thomas asks a favor. He wants Victor to listen just once to him when he relates a dream. Victor agrees because he owes him, and Thomas Builds-a-Fire has ignited Victor's love and pide in his people.

4. Thomas is a true Native American, having retained traditions in his storytelling and in his accompanying Victor on his trip. In fact, he asks the favor in the hope that Victor will remember their traditions. And, since Victor has thought, "Whatever happened to the tribal ties, the sense of community?" it becomes apparent that Victor, indeed, is beginning to believe in the ways of his ancestors and find more than tragedy in its history.

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