illustrated portrait of American Indian author Sherman Alexie

Sherman Alexie

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How would you describe Sherman Alexie's style in "Every Little Hurricane"?

Quick answer:

The narrator uses a matter-of-fact voice throughout the story. However, the narrator takes this style and uses an extended metaphor throughout the story to create this meaning.

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When discussing style, I find the most useful literary elements you must look at are the following: point-of-view, narrative presence, diction, and figurative language.

In "Every Little Hurricane," Sherman Alexie uses a third-person limited narrator who follows the actions of Victor, a boy in the story. For the most part, this narrator tells the story in a matter-of-fact way ("It was January and Victor was nine years old. He was sleeping in his bedroom in the basement of the HUD house when it happened."). In addition, this narrator is clearly sympathetic toward Victor, who, when all the fighting and destruction is happening, "pulled the strings of his pajama bottoms tighter. He squeezed his hands into fists and pressed his face tightly against the glass."

However, the narrator takes this matter-of-fact voice and uses an extended metaphor throughout the story to create this meaning. Throughout the story, the narrator calls the conflict that occurs in this reservation home "a hurricane." The story begins with Victor's uncles, Adolph and Arnold, fighting on the lawn tearing down a tree. To Victor, this fight is a natural occurrence, like a hurricane. The narrator says that Victor had seen footage of hurricanes before, and like those storms, this fight was like "a photograph of a car that a hurricane had picked up and carried five miles before it fell on a house."

But this hurricane, according to the narrator, extends far beyond this fight between his uncles. The hurricane, for indians living on this reservation, is something that naturally occurs. The narrator makes this statement in a matter-of-fact way: "[T]he storm had that had caused their momentary anger had not died. Instead, it moved from Indian to Indian at the party, giving each a specific, painful memory."

This ability to take something that might seem insignificant, like the fight between two brothers, into something grand and almost metaphysical is an Alexie trait. This story is a perfect example of that.

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