What is the underlying message that Alexie is trying to get across to the reader? How does he achieve “delivering” this theme to the reader?
There are a number of minor themes that thread throughout the short stories in The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven. Some of these themes include poverty, alcoholism, externalized and internalized racism, acceptance or rejection of culture, and isolation. While no one of these themes is the sole primary message of the collection, they combine to paint an overall picture of Native American life on the reservation in the 20th Century.
Sherman Alexie's primary goal, then, seems to be to illustrate the various hardships faced by the modern (20th Century) Native American. In doing so, he is giving the reader a lens to a segment of the American population that tends to be underserved and underexplored in American culture. By giving the reader characters to sympathize with and understand in each story, and having those characters deal with -- and sometimes succumb to -- the very real problems that many Native Americans on reservations struggle with on a daily basis, Alexie helps to connect disconnected contemporary Americans with a group of people they may not know much about.