This Is What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona Questions and Answers
by Sherman Alexie

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In This Is What it Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona, how does Victor see the reservation Indians? How does he feel outsiders see them?

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The two main characters, Victor and Thomas Builds-the-Fire, in "This is What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona" by Sherman Alexie, illustrate the plight of the present day Indian. Victor views the reservation Indians in two conflicting ways. First of all, he feels trapped by reservation life. There is never enough money and little hope of advancement. At the opening of the story, Victor has lost his job and asks the tribal council for money to get to Phoenix to retrieve his father's remains. The situation appears hopeless, just as reservation life. However, Victor also realizes the "need for tradition." Thomas Builds-the-Fire represents the tribal ties, the need for the Indians to "take care of each other." This view highlights the necessity of the Indians to remember their stories and their heritage.

There are also two conflicting outsiders' views on the Indians. As Victor laments that no one has money except the "cigarette and fireworks salespeople," he realizes the naivete of the...

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