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Sherman Alexie's short story "This Is What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona" is part of a collection of connected short stories about members of the Coeur d'Laine Indians. It specifically deals with two of the main characters, Thomas and Victor, who travel together to Arizona to pick up Victor's father's ashes. If you are writing an essay about the story, you can focus on one of the elements of literature, such as characters, setting, themes, or symbolism. You might compare the characters of Thomas and Victor and the stereotypical view of how people see Indians. You could show how the story deals with the effects of living on a reservation in the 20th century. One of the themes is family; you could look at Victor's relationship with his father and what he represents. You could look at how Alexie uses the device of flashback to tell the story. Whatever you choose, be sure to use evidence from the story to back up your ideas.
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