The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven Questions and Answers: All I Wanted to Do Was Dance and The Trial of Thomas Builds-the-Fire

Sherman Alexie

Questions and Answers: All I Wanted to Do Was Dance and The Trial of Thomas Builds-the-Fire

Questions
1. Why does the relationship between Victor and his white girlfriend fail?

2. Which role does the contrast between past and present play in "All I Wanted to Do Was Dance"?

3. How is the trial foreshadowed in "The Trial of Thomas Builds-the-Fire," and what is the significance of that sign?

4. What is the irony associated with the naming of the golf course after the warrior Qualchan?

5. How does Thomas’s sentence contribute to the satirical tone of “The Trial of Thomas Builds-the-Fire”?

Answers
1. Victor and his girlfriend cannot forget the long history of conflict between whites and Native Americans. They are like Custer and Crazy Horse at the Battle of Little Bighorn, doomed to oppose and battle one another.

2. The contrast demonstrates the challenges that Victor still faces in his life as well as the behaviors that he uses to cope with those problems. The primary behaviors are drinking and dancing. Drinking, a self-destructive pattern inherited from his parents, brings him little solace. His love of dancing, however, finally offers promise that he will survive the present and continue into the future.

3. The trial is foreshadowed as Esther leaves her husband David, the former tribal chief. This decision is significant because it correlates with a growing spirit of rebellion within the entire tribe. They will not “walk along” with government policy anymore by the end of the story.

4. Qualchan is the name of a warrior murdered during the wars between the Spokane tribes and white armies. It is assumed that if city officials knew about the history behind the name, they would not dedicate a place of recreation to such a bloody history.

5. The sentence is imposed far too late, more than a century after the crimes were committed, and imposed on the wrong person and group. Thomas is clearly a victim, not perpetrator, of the crimes committed against the Spokane tribe.