What are some literary elements present in "This Is What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona"?

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Noelle Thompson | High School Teacher | eNotes Employee

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In addition to the elements of plot which are nicely exhibited within "This is What It Mans to Say Phoenix, Arizona," this is a wonderful frame story containing fabulous examples of flashback, tone, and symbolism.  First, there are a total of six flashbacks within the story each of which allude to a more innocent time of friendship for the main characters.  These are embedded in the main frame where both Victor and Thomas are older, more experienced, and less idealistic.  Secondly, this story has a definite bleak tone that can be traced throughout the entire work.  Poverty and alcohol abuse seem to penetrate all of the US and Native American relations.  Even the last flashback where Thomas has been orphaned and spouting stories that no one listens to is an incredibly sad and bleak image.  Finally, the most important element in the story is symbolism.  One must not neglect the importance of the title.  A phoenix is a mythical bird that dies and regenerates from its own ashes again and again.  Phoenix, of course, is also a city in Arizona.  Victor and Thomas are going on a journey to reclaim what is lost.  By going on this journey, Victor attempts to regenerate from the ashes of his own life.  All of these things together make "This is What It Mans to Say Phoenix, Arizona" a treasure trove of literary elements. 

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