single car driving across the desert

This Is What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona

by Sherman Alexie

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What are some good essay topics for "This Is What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona"?

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Sherman Alexie's short story "This Is What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona" is part of a collection of connected short stories about members of the Coeur d'Laine Indians. It specifically deals with two of the main characters, Thomas and Victor, who travel together to Arizona to pick up Victor's father's ashes.  If you are writing an essay about the story, you can focus on one of the elements of literature, such as characters, setting, themes, or symbolism.  You might compare the characters of Thomas and Victor and the stereotypical view of how people see Indians. You could show how the story deals with the effects of living on a reservation in the 20th century.  One of the themes is family; you could look at Victor's relationship with his father and what he represents. You could look at how Alexie uses the device of flashback to tell the story. Whatever you choose, be sure to use evidence from the story to back up your ideas.

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What are possible good strong essay topics for This is What it Means to Say Pheonix, Arizona? 

This chapter of Alexie's book is often used to teach satire. In particular Alexie satirizes the life of the Indian, and the impression current Americans have of Indians. We see this in the experience between the boys and the gymnast on the airplane.

This piece focuses on a relationship between Thomas and Victor. Their friendship may be a worthwhile topic. Alexie clearly demonstrates a difference between their social classes and how relationships can often penetrate between those barriers in order to flourish and grow. Victor doesn't want to need Thomas but he does.

Thomas' clinging to the old and accepting the new is another worthwhile topic. He seems to maintain a balance of culture we should all embrace. The ability to value our heritage, but maintain necessary advances helps a society thrive.

The issue of forgiveness that occurs between a son and father, and among friends is another worthwhile topic.

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