The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven Topics for Discussion
by Sherman Alexie

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Topics for Discussion

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

1. Identify which story you liked best and why.

2. There is a lot of humor in The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven. Give several examples. What effect does the humor have? Why would the author include it? What does humor do for the characters? The plots? The themes?

3. Alexie uses interesting, unusual titles for his stories. What effects do these titles have on you? Describe the impact the following titles have and how they fit their stories: "Crazy Horse Dreams," "Somebody Kept Saying Powwow," and "The Only Traffic Signal on the Reservation Doesn't Flash Red Anymore"? What about "The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven"? Do you find any symbolic meanings in these titles?

4. It is difficult to be Native American in contemporary society. List evidence from the following stories that supports the charge of racism against white society: "Amusements," "A Train Is an Order of Occurrence Designed to Lead to Some Result," and "Indian Education."

5. Compare and contrast the characters of Victor and Thomas.

6. The point of view among the stories is shifting. Sometimes it is first person, told by one character and then in another story by another character. Sometimes the point of view is limited third person. In one or two stories it is hard to pin down the point of view. How does the shifting point of view affect you as a reader? Why do you think the author changes point of view as he does?

7. One of the themes of The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven seems to be the importance of memory. Show how memory, both personal and tribal, plays a role in two or three characters' lives.

8. Dreams are also an important aspect of Native American life. Tell how dreams fit into Victor's life.

9. Norma Many Horses is an important presence on "the rez." How would you characterize Norma? What role does she have in the stories? Is she a realistic character?
10. Alexie plays around with time in these stories, not always telling a straightforward, chronological narrative. Give examples of flashbacks and visions of the past (Thomas has several) from the stories. Why do you think the author does this?

11. Why is basketball so important on the reservation...

(The entire section is 558 words.)