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Sherman Alexie's Class

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Carsen Popelka

on 29 June 2015

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Transcript of Sherman Alexie's Class

Sherman Alexie
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Check out my short story, "Class," from
The Toughest Indian in the World.
A sense of identity isn't something that only African Americans wrestle with; Native Americans struggle to balance their identity as a member of the tribe with their identity as an American.
PEN/Hemingway Citation for Best First Fiction (1993)
The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven
Audience Award and Filmmakers Trophy at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival
Smoke Signals
PEN/Malamud Award for Short Fiction (2001)
National Book Award for Young People's Literature (2007)
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction (2010)
War Dances
Sherman Alexie
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"You're not Indian," I said when I opened the door.
She looked me up and down.
"No, I'm not," she said, "But you are."
"Well," she said as she stepped into the room and kissed my neck. "Then you can mostly pretend I'm Indian."
Reardan High School

Reardan, Washington
Gonzaga University
1985-1987 | Spokane Washington
Washington State University
1987-1991 | Pullman, Washington

Native American Lawyer Dissatisfied with Living a White Lifestyle
Sherman Alexie
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Lives In
Lives in
Seattle, Washington
Wellpinit, Washington
Born October 7, 1966 (48 years old)
Challenging stereotypes
Sherman Alexie
Edgar Eagle Runner, a Native American lawyer, finds himself alienated from both his Native American roots and his acclimated white culture lifestyle.
Presentation by Carsen Popelka

June 29 at 8:00 am
June 29 at 7:58 am
Curious about how critics have analyzed my work? Here are some relevant comments about "Class":
"His braids represent for him the Indian identity that he has lost in the process of raising his socioeconomic status." (Miles)
"The [escort] is symbolic of Edgar’s inability to identify with his Indian heritage. Like her, he looks the part, but he must pretend that she is Indian in order to fulfill his fantasy. He fulfills the fantasy of the white world by pretending to be Indian, with his braids, calling on stereotypes of Indians held by popular culture to create an air of mystery and mysticism." (Miles)
"Metaphorically the two choices of the Indian are at battle [between Junior and Edgar]—the drunk and the sell-out." (Miles)

Works Cited
Bernardin, Susan. "Alexie-Vision: Getting the Picture: For
Sherman Alexie, the Medium Is the Message: How His Refractions-and Serious Infractions-of Media Image and Poetic Form Reconstitute American Indian Literatures." World Literature Today 84.4 (2010): 52. Biography in Context. Web. 28 June 2015.
"Biography." Sherman Alexie. FallsApart Productions, Inc.,
2014. Web. 28 June 2015.
Deschutes Public Library. "Sherman Alexie." Flickr. Yahoo!,
24 Jan. 2014. Web. 28 June 2015.
Gonzaga University. "Gonzaga Merchandise & Apparel from
the Official Gonzaga University Fan Shop." Gonzaga Apparel. Fanatics Retail Group, 2015. Web. 28 June 2015.
McCabe, David. "Senate Confirms First Native American
Ambassador." The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 4 June 2014. Web. 29 June 2015.
Miles, John D. "Not Corn Pollen or Eagle Feathers: Native
American Stereotypes and Identity in Sherman Alexie's Fiction - NCSU Digital Repository." NCSU Libraries. North Carolina State University, 17 Mar. 2004. Web. 29 June 2015.
"Novels & Stories." Sherman Alexie. FallsApart Productions,
Inc., 2014. Web. 28 June 2015.
Nygren, Åse. "A World of Story-Smoke: A Conversation with
Sherman Alexie." MELUS 30.4, Home: Forged or Forged? (2005): 149-69. JSTOR. Web. 28 June 2015.
Peterson, Nancy J. ""If I Were Jewish, How Would I Mourn
the Dead?": Holocaust and Genocide in the Work of Sherman Alexie." MELUS 35.3 (2010): 63. Biography in Context. Web. 28 June 2015.
"Reardan High School." Northeast 2B League. EPivot
Solutions, Inc., 2014. Web. 28 June 2015.
"Sherman Alexie." Newsmakers. Detroit: Gale, 1998. N. pag.
Biography in Context. Web. 28 June 2015.
Taylor, Kevin. "How to Hoop It Up Like a Poet." Inlander.
Foundation, 4 Apr. 2012. Web. 28 June 2015.
Tep, Layhannara. "Tuesday Title: The Toughest Indian In the
World." WSP. Wordpress, 31 May 2011. Web. 28 June 2015.
Washington State Athletics. "Brand Identity."
Wsucougars.com. Washington State University Athletics, 2015. Web. 28 June 2015.
Curious about how critics have analyzed my work? Here are some relevant comments about my writing style:
"The characters are muted by the traumas of hatred and chaos, loss and grief, danger and fear, and cannot--except in a few rare cases--articulate their suffering. Instead, they tend to resort to self-destructive behavior, including violence and substance abuse." (Nygren)
"One of the real dangers is that other Indians have taken many stereotypes as a reality, as a way to measure each other and ourselves" (Nygren)
"Survivance acknowledges colonialism and trauma, but it claims more than survival as an ending to this history. 'Native survivance stories are renunciations of dominance, tragedy, and victimry," Vizenor explains; they 'take on the world with wit, wisdom, and tricky poses' to insist on the continuing presence of native peoples and their wisdom in the contemporary world." (Peterson)
"'I wasn't saved by the separation of cultures: I was
inside the collision of cultures.' In declaring his right to 'claim all of it,' all of the beauty and messiness of conflicting literary legacies, Sherman Alexie transmits and transmutes possibilities for re-envisioning our entangled national story." (Bernardin)
Sherman Alexie
June 29 at 7:57 am
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