What is the purpose of Thomas's conversation with Cathy during the plane ride in This Is What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona?Alexie has said that " humor is an essential part of (idian) culture...

What is the purpose of Thomas's conversation with Cathy during the plane ride in This Is What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona?

Alexie has said that " humor is an essential part of (idian) culture how does this humor help define and devlop the story's main themes

Expert Answers
missy575 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Let me count the purposes for you!

1. During this scenario, the biggest purpose is to show that feeling screwed by the government crosses all cross-sections of people. This Olympic gymnast was not allowed to compete in the 1980 Olympics because the US govt. boycotted due to location (I believe it was in the Soviet Union that year).  She was a beautiful white woman who you'd think our government would be on the same side with, but no, even she's been dealt a tough hand in life. Ironically, she was an alternate, so she wouldn't get what she was entitled to anyways. The Indians are always complaining about life on the reservation - most of Alexie's work reflects this. The funny thing about this girl is that she is so like the indians. They probably wouldn't get what they wanted even if the government gave it to them. (Let's say the 'it' refers to success. The govt. will make all kind of exceptions and grants for them, but it is typical according to Alexie for them to waste what they get)

2. Another purpose is to show humor. Thomas is getting a hot girl to talk to him. We never see the geeky Indian kid get the hot girl in real life so that's an irony or even satire, because it is mocking him.

3. Another concept is the demonstration that people talk without reservation (no pun intended) on planes. But in real life we separate ourselves based on perceptions and stereotypes. This shows something about mankind, but more importantly the Native American's low self-esteem.

Humor is an essential part of culture because they have had so much pain. This humor plays on some of the laziness, drunkeness, and abuse of rez life. Each of Alexie's work play on these themes.

 

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