Discrimination is all too familiar for Sherman Alexie in the narrative “Indian Education”. In this short memoir the author describes a troubled journey through the protagonist’s early education. Alexie uses simple language filled with clever uses of satire, irony and imagery. The overall depressing tone throughout the journal like story sets the mood early on. Life on the reservation was difficult in terms of acceptance for protagonist Victor Polatkin. As a child he was bullied relentlessly not only by his peers but by his instructors as well.
He learned early from a transfer student who lived off of the reservation on to take control of situations by throwing the “first punch”. Unfortunately his school troubles were not his only worry, Alexie expresses distress in Victor’s homelife with an alcoholic father and a mother in distress. In grade seven, Victor shares a kiss with a white girl from off the reservation, he expresses that this was a turning point in his life using the kiss as a catalyst.
As he was kissing her he felt that he was figuratively “saying goodbye” to his past life on the reservation. He soon after switches to an all white school off the reservation to pursue a higher quality education only to feel the same stereotyping and discrimination throughout the rest of his high school career. Despite all of these hardships, Victor graduates as valedictorian from the farm town high school.
Throughout this narrative the protagonist was ostracized for being different, whether it be for having short hair and “horn-rimmed glasses” as a child or having hair so long his graduation cap wouldn’t fit.
Instead of succumbing to the stereotype like the rest of the former classmates at the school on the reservation, he perseveres by graduating at the top of his class. When he chooses to attend an all white school, Alexie makes a point to say he is “saying goodbye” to his old life on the reservation. When he graduates with long hair, which is a traditional indian custom, it shows that despite the fact he was surrounded by white culture, he still stuck with his old roots.
The narrative sheds light on the undeniably discriminatory acts that are very real for Indian Americans to this day. Most of the protagonists lessons do not come from academics, but from real life experience. For example, when Victor passes out from a diabetic episode and the teacher questions how much he had to drink because Indian kids start “drinking real young”. From the tone of this story I would say that the writer has become jaded from all of his experiences.
Personally, I cannot relate to the protagonist because I am not a minority. What I can say is that the mojority of people willl say that when they see injustices like these
👋 Hi! I’m your smart assistant Amy!
Don’t know where to start? Type your requirements and I’ll connect you to an academic expert within 3 minutes.get help with your assignment