What is the author's perspective on otherness in "This is What It Mean To Say Phoenix, Arizona ?The author grew up on a reservation. The story has lots of examples of otherness. THomas...

What is the author's perspective on otherness in "This is What It Mean To Say Phoenix, Arizona ?

The author grew up on a reservation. The story has lots of examples of otherness. THomas Builds-the-Fire points out that the indians are 'others' when he says "I dont know why we celebrate independence day, it aint like it was our independence they were fighting for". He is also an other because he talks to cars and dogs.

Victor seems to be an other because his father left the family. The tribal council is condescending and is unwill to loan victor the money he needs to get his father home.

So how does this show the authors perspective on otherness?

Asked on by ladykat357

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

This novel points towards issues of otherness by its presentation of an Indian who does not feel accepted into mainstream American life. This is shown by his remarks about Independence Day. Victor is made into an "other" in a number of ways: by his native status, but also by the way that he is treated within his community. This novel in a sense is a study of how people are "othered" and the impact of that "othering."

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

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The concept of "otherness" seems to be presented as both a social condition and a state of mind.  Individuals can represent "the other" in either realm.  For example, Cathy is white and, by all accounts, well to do.  She represents the other as her dreams were stunted by the boycott of the 1980 Olympics.  Her narrative was silenced through no fault of her own.  The reclamation of her voice is through her own articulation and her own subjectivity.  Victor's "othernness" is both as an Indian in American society.  Yet, the real dimension is a subjective one, and the ending seems to indicate that, similar to Cathy, the reclamation of his own voice, the redemption from his own "othernness," is dependent on how he will use his voice to articulate a position of activity.  Being liminal or in a state where one moves from margin to center might be a construct of society, but this does not have to be where it ends.  Alexie seems to be suggesting that despite such a configuration, individuals can exercise power to move from margin to center in their own state of being in the world.

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ladykat357 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 2) eNoter

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The concept of "otherness" seems to be presented as both a social condition and a state of mind.  Individuals can represent "the other" in either realm.  For example, Cathy is white and, by all accounts, well to do.  She represents the other as her dreams were stunted by the boycott of the 1980 Olympics.  Her narrative was silenced through no fault of her own.  The reclamation of her voice is through her own articulation and her own subjectivity.  Victor's "othernness" is both as an Indian in American society.  Yet, the real dimension is a subjective one, and the ending seems to indicate that, similar to Cathy, the reclamation of his own voice, the redemption from his own "othernness," is dependent on how he will use his voice to articulate a position of activity.  Being liminal or in a state where one moves from margin to center might be a construct of society, but this does not have to be where it ends.  Alexie seems to be suggesting that despite such a configuration, individuals can exercise power to move from margin to center in their own state of being in the world.

Thanks for taking the time to respond, however I think my special ed condition is raising its ugly head, lol! Although I understand what the swords in your response mean individually, when put into the above sentences, I am lost. I am not any closer to understanding this authors perspective on otherness.

Clearly the author was an other. He grew up on the reservation. He experienced being an other simply because he was an indian. But I dont see anything in the story that is a reflection on his view o being an other.

Unless, he is saying that because he is indian he is an other but is that reallly a perspective? Are these his experiences he is writing about? Or are these made up stories? If they are his personal stories, then who is he? Is he Victor whose father left? or was he Thomas who has visions and talks to dogs and cars? Does he feel he is an other because indians are typically poor?

I just dont get it. I've scoured the internet to no avail. I hope you can help clarify this for me.

Thanks, Kathy

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