Sherman Alexie's Perspective on Reality

Categories: Free EssaysPhilosophy

Sherman Alexie, in his compelling narrative "Flight Patterns," offers a thought-provoking exploration of reality, unveiling a complex tapestry of contradictions that define the human experience. Alexie contends that societal norms and expectations often force individuals into predefined roles based on factors such as ethnicity, gender, and religion. However, the reality, as depicted in the story, reveals the inherent challenges individuals face in reconciling their multifaceted identities with the expectations imposed upon them.

Contradictions in Identity: William's Struggle

William, the protagonist of "Flight Patterns," embodies the struggle against societal expectations and the internal conflict arising from his diverse identity.

He grapples with the dichotomy of being an American and a Spokane Indian, refusing to succumb to the pressure of choosing one over the other. In religious matters, William displays a generous adherence, encompassing both his Spokane heritage and the civic life typical of most Americans. The text underscores this internal conflict with the poignant statement, "William wanted all of it. Hunger was his crime.

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This statement serves as a poignant commentary on the intricate choices individuals face in reality. Alexie uses William's character to illuminate the dissonance between societal expectations and personal desires. In a world that demands categorization, William's hunger for a holistic identity challenges the conventional norms, emphasizing the inherent complexities individuals navigate in defining their own realities.

Navigating Difficult Choices: Fikadu's Dilemma

Fikadu, another character in "Flight Patterns," grapples with a different set of challenges but echoes the overarching theme of making difficult choices in the face of conflicting realities.

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Faced with the moral dilemma of killing his own people for Selassie while striving to maintain familial bonds, Fikadu exemplifies the sacrifices individuals make to navigate the complexities of their existence. William, too, confronts a parallel struggle between career and family, epitomizing the universal nature of these internal conflicts.

Alexie utilizes the characters of William and Fikadu to underscore the imperfections inherent in reality. The portrayal of difficult choices and uncomfortable compromises speaks to the broader human experience, emphasizing that the reality we navigate is far from perfect. It is a nuanced landscape where individuals must grapple with conflicting priorities and make decisions that may run contrary to societal expectations but are essential for achieving greater objectives.

Belief in Stories: Embracing the Essence of Reality

William's choice to believe Fikadu's story serves as a poignant moment encapsulating Alexie's perspective on reality. Regardless of the story's veracity, it encapsulates the essence of reality in society. The willingness to embrace narratives, whether true or not, becomes a means of understanding and coming to terms with the complexities of the world. In a society rife with contradictions, stories become a powerful tool for individuals to make sense of their own realities and the realities of others.


In conclusion, Sherman Alexie's "Flight Patterns" delves into the intricate web of contradictions that define the human experience. Through the characters of William and Fikadu, Alexie unravels the complexities individuals face in reconciling their identities with societal expectations. The narrative emphasizes the imperfect nature of reality, where difficult choices and uncomfortable compromises are inevitable. Ultimately, the willingness to believe in stories becomes a testament to the human capacity for understanding and embracing the multifaceted essence of reality.

Updated: Dec 01, 2023
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Sherman Alexie's Perspective on Reality. (2016, Mar 27). Retrieved from

Sherman Alexie's Perspective on Reality essay
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