abstract illustration of several people and items: a woman wading through a river, a Native American man in traditional headdress, bottles of alcohol, a sedan, a basketball, and a pair of eyes

The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven

by Sherman Alexie

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Is Alexie's portrayal of Native American traditions and culture in "The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven" positive, negative, or neutral?

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Alexie's writing is both positive and negative about traditions and culture. He can show how sometimes by refusing to let go of certain traditions, life is made harder for the Indians while at the same time, he also recognizes that the white world assumes things about him because he is Indian.  He shows the plight of the Native American Indian as having this duality.  It is a question to which there is no answer so in part, what Alexie tries to do is highlight this conflict.

In the title story for example, he goes into a convenience store.  He is aware that the clerk is observing him with suspicion - he knows this from his own experiences of racial profiling in Seattle.  At the same time, he has worked in a convenience market himself and has also observed certain customers with suspicion.  Although not stated as such the fact that he had also worked in a convenience store is telling in so much is that is an example of the kind of job that is undesirable therefore often times falls to marginalized populations to do.

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