What is the conflict of the story "This What it Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona"?
Victor seems to have a conflict of identity since he is uncertain of where he belongs.
The friend that Victor had as a youth, significantly, had a real Indian name—Thomas Builds-the-Fire—that suggests his heritage. However, Victor has a Caucasian name. Adding to his loss of Indian identity, Victor's father left the reservation when he was a boy. Also, it is "too late to be warriors in the old way."
After Victor learns of his father's death, he plans to go to Phoenix and retrieve his father's ashes; however, he does not have enough money to fly since he has lost his job. His former friend Thomas offers to help pay for the airline tickets so that they can get to Arizona. Once there, Victor will inherit his father's truck and three hundred dollars, so they will be able to return to the reservation. As they drive to Phoenix, Thomas fills in some gaps in Victor's memory of his father by telling him about the time that his father discovered Thomas in Spokane, Washington. Thomas says that he went there because he had a vision to go and stand by the Falls. After he talked with Victor's father, Thomas asserts,
Your dad was my vision. Take care of each other is what my dreams were saying.
Thomas assists Victor in discovering his identity in the context of his family and old friend. "Pictures, letters, and stuff" are the valuables that Thomas suggests might be in Victor's father's trailer. It is through interaction and communication with others that life has value and a man acquires an identity.
The two former boyhood friends return to the reservation. After Victor drops off his old friend, Thomas Builds-the-Fire asks him,
"Just one time when I'm telling a story somewhere, why don't you stop and listen?" "Just once?""Just once."
Victor waved his arms to let Thomas know that the deal was good.
Victor drives off with his father's ashes from Phoenix, rising to his identity as a man, just as the mythical bird rose from ashes.