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

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What would be the theme for "This Is What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona"?

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Delia Knott eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In addition to isolation from each other, another theme of this story is the marginalization of Native Americans by white American society and the United States government.

When Thomas and Victor catch a plane to Phoenix to pick up Victor’s father’s ashes, they are seated next to a “tiny white woman” named Cathy, and they joke together and make friends. The woman complains to the two men that “the government ... screwed the 1980 Olympic team by boycotting.” After Thomas remarks that the team has “got a lot in common with Indians,” the group does not laugh; this indicates that,...

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jcurriecn | Student

The story centers around Victor whom he hadn’t had a close relationship with in years, only talked to him over the phone once or twice. Victor has this genetic pain, which was soon to be “as real and immediate as a broken bone.” This story is a about pain on a personal level but also a personal pain and the conflict someone may have within themselves because of broken relationships and crises of self identity. Although Victor had a problematic relation with his father, as well as with Thomas, part of their trip to Arizona involves Thomas flashbacks with Victor’s father and telling other stories.

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