Superman and Me
Superman and Me: the Role Models While Growing Up
Sitting in third grade listening to the teachers voice fade louder then softer as Wilbur met Charlotte. While I tapped my pencil on my desk, looked at the clock, tried to pass a note to my friend that was listened intently. I was bored, I couldn’t focus enough to remember what the book was about. I got through it, getting A’s and B’s on all my homework and quizzes. My report card said I was doing good. Until my teacher pulled me to her desk to read an “M” book instead of a “Q” book like everyone else. In this instance, each book represented a letter of the alphabet and I was further behind than the rest of my class. I would look at the pictures and imagine words that were not on the page. Much like Sherman Alexie did when he wrote in “Superman and Me”, “I cannot read the words, but I assume it tells me that, ‘Superman is breaking down the door’”(325). As he was imagine superman, I imagined the same things. To me it didn’t matter because it was not a grade, but then my mom found out. Due to the fact that my mother was such a big influence in my academic career, I was able to become a better student and will become a better teacher.
The night of parent teacher conference night finally arrived, I begged my mom not to go. I tried to remind her how good I was at math and how all my grades were high. My teacher, Mrs. Wilson, wrote my mom a lengthy note urging her to come. My mom came home that night determined, I thought she would be upset with me for not using my finger to track when reading the “M” book. She sat me down at the kitchen table and told me to read one of my math word problems. I did it with ease, breezing through it. Then she gave me a Junie B. Jones book from off the shelf and told me to read her a few lines. I tripped over a few words and took twice the time to read it than the math problem. That’s when my mom knew we had work to do.
The next day my mom picked me up after school and asked me if I had any homework. I exclaimed that I already got my math done, but I still had a test over a book to study for. When we got home my mom grabbed my bike from the garage. She would ask me a question, if I answered it correctly, I was allowed to drive up and down my small street. I was finally getting it, my mom knew I could do it. Similar to when Alexie writes, “The words themselves were mostly foreign, but I still remember the exact moment when I first understood”(324). The bike rides were enjoyable to me, which allowed me to realize my potential just like Alexie did. This went on for weeks and my test scores got higher. My mom even threw different games in the mix to keep my interest. I was lucky to have my mom, I would have been placed in a title one reading class without her.
In highschool, I had an English teacher, Mrs. Hardgrove, she was a stickler. On average my class got no higher than B’s in her class. However, I got A’s. When I took her final that was based off of comprehension from the books’ Fahrenheit 451, Hamlet, and Of Mice and Men I scored a 97%. Without all the work my mom had done I would have been put in a lower level learning and would have stayed there for the rest of my academic career. Alexie writes in Superman and Me, “I am smart. I am arrogant. I am lucky”(327). I am lucky as well, I am lucky to have a mother that cares about me enough to help me be who I am today.
Thinking back on the times my mom helped me, I wish that each child would have the opportunity of working with an adult if they were falling behind. My mom inspired me to make the decision to become an elementary school teacher. If she would not have helped me, I would not have had such a positive outlook on teaching. Due to this experience I believe that each child should have their own cheerleader helping them get through life. In my school the kids that had got placed into special needs never got out those classes, they spent 13 years with the same group of kids only switching it up every once in awhile. Some of these kids had the knowledge to rise above these classes, just did not have the help. This is why I think every kid should have a parent, teacher or relative to lean on when times get hard, like I did.
I am now in college writing, not tapping my pencil, looking at the clock or trying to pass notes. Instead I am understanding what is being taught to me. I am being treated like an adult. The tasks that are given to me are all reasonable and I am capable of getting them done. Since I now have this positive outlook on learning, I am dedicated to the children that need a cheerleader in their academic career. Each student should have the help that I got and to not feel embarrassed to ask for it. If it was not for the help of my mother, I do not know what my path would have been. Life is a beautiful ride.
A Special Narration Technique in Superman and Me
Superman and Me MRA
Thesis: More often than not, writers of the modern era are lured into toying and testing the mechanical framework of their writing to create the most impactful story possible. In writing Superman and Me, Sherman Alexie does just that and breaks new ground on utilizing third-person based narration not only to construct an extended metaphor, but also in achieving a near-perfect connection with his own story that the conscious reader is able to pick up on.
To this day, third person narration remains a powerful technique in the art of language that allows the author to place himself/herself within the plot of the actual story while keeping an intermediary position as narrator by avoiding the potential for bias that is commonly associated with first-person based narration. But how complex of a connection can the author truly construct using third-person? For Sherman Alexie, very deep. He initially offsets the foundation for his story by delving into details of his past and childhood years in the first-person to establish some form of trust between the audience and his authoritative position as narrator. In essence, the overarching message that one concludes from his piece as a whole falls something along the lines of how education has the power to “save lives.” In retrospect, when we pay careful attention to the flow of the essay, it becomes increasingly hinted that this isn’t necessarily the furthest extent of Alexie’s intended message. Considering the craftsmanship behind the repetitive style of writing and the level of emotion drawn by his tone and syntax from the start, it simply can’t be. His switch to third-person based narration is sudden and unexpected, throwing the reader off from the composure and flow of the essay. This is his way of signaling that the reader should pay close attention to his new narrative mode as it begins halfway through on page 17 with, “This might be an interesting story all by itself. A little Indian boy teaches himself to read at an early age and advances quickly…” Like the Superman comic that jump-started his path to success and like the Man of Steel himself, we know that Sherman Alexie becomes his own reincarnated version of Superman. As a grown and successful member of the contemporary society today, this is critical for Alexie as he looks back on his past because rather than it being just another profound success story, it serves as a testament not only for his readers or Indian children of his reservation today, but more importantly for himself. Literally, this piece is the heart and living legacy of everything he’s achieved and stands for. Yet, this parallelism between Alexie and Superman only remains half of it. As any serious Superman fan would know, Clack Kent is the fictional character that is Superman’s real identity in society. The creators of Superman with Marvel Studios insist that Mr. Clark goes about daily life in the fictional world of the Superman storyline without the public being aware of his true identity as Superman. This is shocking news because Superman is the only mainstream superhero that exists today who does not wear a mask, complex disguise, or quite anything besides a plain cape and lettered suit. His identity and physical appearance are fully exposed all the times. This is highly relevant to the Superman and Me piece because it has a direct correlation to Sherman Alexie and his representation as Superman in the story. As previously stated, on one hand he becomes Superman himself, “widely feared and ridiculed by Indians and non-Indians alike.” (pg. 17) On the other, he is exactly what he describes himself to be, a regular “…little Indian boy…” that “…grows into a man who often speaks of his childhood in the third-person, as if it will somehow dull the pain and make him sound more modest about his talents.” (pg. 17) Just as the Superman storyline goes, Alexie truly is a living testament to being a superhero but society today fails to realize that and instead chooses to ignore him as such and “…with theatrical precision.” (Pg. 18) In other words, not only does he set himself up to “become” Superman, but quite literally is able to incorporate the fictional Superman storyline and make it his own – a real one. All of this was achieved with simple yet elaborately thought out usage of third-person based narration giving us new light on the powers of writing and language . With Superman and Me, Sherman Alexie has masterfully demonstrated technique in narration mode but above all has used it to make a the entire Superman legacy as real as you and I.
An Importance of Stubbornness According to Superman and Me
Persistence: The Key to Success
Reading, a skill possessed by a majority of people in modern times, and also a skill taken for granted by modern society. Most people learn to read in their early childhood, mentored by their parents and teachers. However, not all children enjoy the luxury of a caring environment. Sherman Alexie is among those who had to persevere through adversity and endeavor on his own to obtain the ability to read. His own encounters with the feat of learning to read have inspired him to make every effort to, through his writing, assist any child going through the same struggle. In the essay “The Joy of Reading and Writing: Superman and Me”, by Sherman Alexie, Alexie’s purpose is to demonstrate to the reader that persistence is the key to achieving goals in life. Alexie shows this purpose of persistence leading to success through his use of repetition and symbolism.
Alexie’s use of repetition serves to demonstrate that persistence is vital to achieving goals. In his essay, Alexie shares that, in his quest to save his life, he, “read books late into the night… read books at recess… read books in the car… read the books my father brought home…” (13). This quote shows just four of the fourteen times Alexie repeats the word “read” in the paragraph on pages thirteen and fourteen. The reiteration serves to make the reader realize the extent to which Alexie practiced his reading in his youth. He constantly honed his reading skills, all in the hopes of achieving his goal of “saving his life”. For Alexie, “saving his life” meant becoming educated and breaking free of the constraints set upon him by his traditional reservation. His excessive recurrence of the word “read” showed his persistence in chasing his goal of education, and causes the reader to understand how his persistence is the virtue that led to his success.
Also, Alexie’s use of symbolism serves to establish that persistence is crucial in order to achieve goals. In the essay, Alexie states that when first learning to read, he pretended to read the words, “‘I am breaking down the door’”(13). In this quote, the door Alexie is breaking down represents the barrier created by the adversity he receives from his background as an Indian on a reservation. This personal symbol puts into perspective for the reader the inhospitable environment in which Alexie grew up in. For many readers, childhood education was encouraged by their parents and community. Most have never been in a situation where their learning was discouraged by their environment, and thus cannot relate to Alexie’s description of his struggle, because their education never required such exertion. However, Alexie’s comparison of his struggle to a locked door instills into the reader the contrast between their upbringing and Alexie’s by making his struggle much more relatable. Not many people can say they have grown up on a Native American reservation and have struggled to learn how to read despite adversity from their surroundings. But, the choice of a locked door, a very familiar object for all, yet also a frustrating one, helps the reader perceive the feeling of vexation that Alexie experienced. A door is the threshold to a new world, a gateway to a new life. Yet, a door can be opened and closed, and so someone has closed and locked the door on Alexie. The door can still be opened, but only with a herculean effort. Since Alexie uses the door as a symbol for his struggles to learn, the reader then associates the feeling of frustration when faced with a locked door to the challenge of learning how to read. Furthermore, the fact that Alexie has “broken down the door” and entered into this new world of enlightenment through reading gives the readers perception of the rewards Alexie has reaped through his achievement, which serves as an example that establishes the success of Alexie’s persistence. Having his audience understand Alexie’s mental and emotional struggle causes them to comprehend how ambitious his goal of education was, how the endeavor was akin to such a feat as demolishing a locked door. This understanding of the difficulty of Alexie’s goal, alongside the affirmation of the benefits secured through the achievement of one’s goals, serves to validate in the reader’s mind that persistence, the key virtue that Alexie highlights in his road to success, is indeed vital to the attainment of goals.
Alexie’s purpose is demonstrated mainly through his use of repetition and symbolism. These devices accentuate Alexie’s intention for his audience by fashioning relatable experiences. By utilizing this fabricated empiricism, the reader is able to connect personally to Alexie’s trials, and understand how his persistence was crucial to his success. Now, equipped with the knowledge of Alexie’s surmounting of his challenges, the virtue of persistence is substantiated in the audience’s mind, and one more reader has been “saved” by Alexie.
Superman and Me: How Does Society Influence on Us
Is the world a collection of paragraphs? Reading a literary piece is simple, but analyzing the true meaning behind the text is imperative to acquire the full understanding of the story. In the piece “The Joy of Reading and writing: Superman and me”, by Sherman Alexie, portrays the meaning through his experiences, from the beginning as an ill-fated Indian to become an intelligent one through diligence and eagerness to become successful. By describing how he taught himself how to read at the age of three, the author narrates his own story to illustrate the faint chances that he had as a young Indian in a reservation to succeed in life based on the circumstances in the society around him. This was not only limited by poverty, but also the limited school system that was around him which indirectly dispirited Indians who were aspiring to become successful. To overcome this life this Alexie shows how it is tremendously significant to pursue your goals through self-motivation. With the reading and writing shaping his life into what it is today, it can be seen that there are no boundaries to any person as long as they have ambition. Alexie’s discussions of the complications that he had to overcome reflect the importance of self-motivation in this astonishing piece.
By making an implicit argument, the implications are indirectly alleged through the piece. It is effervescent the author argues that any person has the potential to become successful, but all they need is an initial start that leads to dedication. For instance: When “Superman is breaking down the door” (17), it is as though the author himself is “breaking” through his barrier that he is living in and will try to come out of it into the tangible world to become efficacious. This is a usage of imagery, where the author relates himself to Superman subtly. “I refused to fail. I was smart. I was arrogant. I was lucky.” (17) Regardless of the author’s status, he was willing to let his self-motivation aid him to becoming successful. He starts to teach himself how to read and supplements his knowledge to approach his goals with each word. The author explains, “At the same time I was seeing the world in paragraphs…” (16) this quote shows how the world started to come together as a story just like paragraphs make up the entire story in a literary piece.
The author exemplifies the importance of the story by using the language through imagery, writing style, and occasionally direct statements in the text . He augments the understanding of the story by utilizing first person to give the reader a meticulous point of view about his life. This is rendered through the real story of the author’s life, giving inspiration to the readers. Not only does the author use his astuteness to be successful, but also shares it with the younger generation around him. In order to share his experiences; he visits a local school to share what he has faced during his life. When Alexie articulates, “I cannot recall a single time that a guest teacher visited the reservation” (18) it means that you are not considered a full genius if you cannot share your experiences with the rest of the people around you. By sharing his intelligence with the age group where he started off, he sustained the potential to change the lives of the children in the school. At extremities , the author even manages to go overboard to basically force the students to focus on education, this is done out of his importance for the children. Alexie yells at them “Books, I say to them, Books! … I am smart. I am arrogant. I am lucky. I am trying to save your lives.” (18) At times, Alexie even compares himself to the other students at school, to show how he was above them but he was not expected to be because he was native Indian. “We were Indian children who were expected to be stupid.” (17) He was not “meant” to be successful according to the people around him in the society, but Alexie manages to overlook these negative racist statements and decides to go his own way to get ahead of them. To show his zeal to surpass the racism he says, “A little Indian boy teaches himself to read at an early age and advances quickly.” (17) This shows how Alexie excelled the standards set by society and proved to show that any person can be successful no matter what race, ethnicity, or class they are. In contrast to the society’s visualization, Alexie succeeded and states his success in life to inspire other Indians to undertake the challenges .
Alexie what he read in books with others around him, and thus effectively makes his argument to the reader impeccably. One of the ways that the author exploits this is by using a specific type of language and first person point of view. He talks about how he had basically taught himself to read. For instance: Sherman repeats the usage of every material he could possibly read, anything that contained anything from a couple of words to entire books. “I read the books my father brought home from the pawnshops and secondhand. I read the books I borrowed from the library. I read the backs of cereal boxes. I read the newspaper, etc.…” (18) By emphasizing this practice, the author shows how this not only lead him to successfully being able to read, but he also became a writer in the end. Reading was the source where Alexie acquired his own “super powers”, like in the Superman comics, which fueled his excursion out of the reservation. “I didn’t have the vocabulary to say “paragraph,” but I realized that a paragraph was a fence that held words.” (16) It is seen in this quote that it is an indirect reference to the author’s life of how he did not have enough materialistic things in life, but he knew what he had to learn to become successful in his life.
Sherman Alexie displays the impediments that he had to over come to become affluent in society. This begins when Superman breaks down the door in the story that Alexie reads, and ends with him visiting the schools often as possible to share his aptitude. Barriers are not only physical, like the door that he broke down metaphorically, but also barriers mentally that he overcame. Becoming an astonishing phenomenon to others, the author shares his experiences for the well being of others. Alexie was a hero who not only defeated his “enemy”, but also saved his own life and others at the same time. The standards of society did not impinge Alexie, and he managed to overlook them to become successful through self-motivation. The meaning of the story is clearer than a glass door, but people have to first take that initial step to open the door of opportunities to be successful. To Alexie, the world was a collection of paragraphs coming together to become a successful story.
The Topic Of Literacy In Superman And Me By Sherman Alexie
The central question of Sherman Alexie’s “Superman and Me” is ‘how did the gift of literacy impact Sherman Alexie’s life?’. Alexie expected more of himself than his culture did. Literacy gave him a sense of individuality by separating him from the stereotypes of Indians and he was able to “save his life” through it.
Literacy created a divide between him and his peers. Through his abilities, he was able to avoid being categorized by the traditional Indian stereotypes placed on him by outside cultures as well as his own culture. He willed himself to be the exception. Indian children were not expected, let alone encouraged, to read and write. Indians were only accepted if they conformed to the social norm of unintelligence. He stood out from the crowd with his drive for change and unwillingness to conform to society’s expectations of what he could accomplish.
Sherman Alexie was able to “save his life” through the power of reading and writing. From the moment Alexie was born, he was expected to fail because of the circumstances he was born into- Indian, lower class, and living on a reservation. He knew that reading was the key to overcoming his adversaries and creating a difference, not only in his life but in the lives of other Indian children. While Alexie enjoyed reading, he also read out of desperation to achieve. Through Sherman Alexie’s consistent reading, he was able to save his life. He never gave in to the stereotypes his community placed upon him. He was able to become a writer, a career that is not usually pursued by Indians. Through all of his hard work, he was able to not only save his own life from becoming insignificant, but work towards saving other young Indians’ lives as well through the gift of literacy during his visits to Indian schools.
Throughout the story, “Superman and Me”, the central question is answered to full extent. The author treats the central question with pride. He was proud of what he was able to accomplish through his drive at such a young age and knows that he was lucky to be born into a home were reading was normalized instead of looked down upon. He acknowledges the he is lucky for this. This gave him the willpower to keep going even when everyone from his culture as well as from other cultures were telling him to stick to the status quo.
Analysis Of Rhetorical Devices In Sherman Alexie’s Superman And Me
Superman and Me is a memoir written by Sherman Alexie in 1998. It’s about Sherman’s childhood and how reading a Superman comic book made an impact on his life. Sherman Alexie is a writer who comes from Native American culture and was not given a bright future. He believes not only reading books will help a student learn, it will save their lives.
Alexie uses pathos to the appeal the reader by called himself “little Indian boy” in his story who teaches himself how to read at an early age and learns quickly.” He does not consider himself a genius but he considers himself the little Indian boy who can read and was able to advance his reading skills because of his passion for books and literature. Alexie “read books late into the night” until he “could barely keep” his “eyes open. The relationship between Alexie and literature was so powerful that it was like paper and glue stuck to each other. His emotion tells the reader about how reading could influence the reader and Sherman Alexie is a victim of that influence.
Another rhetorical device Alexie uses is hyperbole. “Our house was filled with books. They were stacked in crazy piles in the bathroom, bedrooms and living rooms.” A house filled with thousands of books in every room would be a mad house. He is trying to say that he had so many books to read and is creating an image for the reader’s mind to visualize how many books he had read. This also shows how he grew up reading in his childhood life. The more books he was reading, he was saving his life by grabbing knowledge from reading texts.
Alexie masks himself as the unfortunate little Indian boy in his story to show his audience who he really is, which is an example of persona. He wants the audience to know unfortunate the Indian boy was living with the expectations to be un-sophisticated and un-social in school because of the environment he lived in. Throughout his story, he masks the boy into a child who is willing to learn by reading every book he held into his hands and read until he could barely keep his eyes open. The little Indian boy was saving himself from the destitute life he was living by educating himself from reading comic books into sentences, sentences into paragraphs, paragraphs into several paragraphs, and several paragraphs into a book containing more and more pages to read until his eyes were ready to be shut and be open again to read more.
This childhood memoir Superman and Me contains rhetorical devices such as pathos, hyperbole, and persona to connect to Sherman Alexie’s perspective about education. There are many children who cannot attend school because of the poor environment they live in that does not provide education for them. Environments like the ones that Alexie used to live in his childhood can influence those children into a path that will not provide them a future instead a future of more of unfortunate events to struggle in life. Reading can change a person’s life and also save their life. Alexie has shown the reader that he did not let his stereotype or the environment he lived in to affect his future. He shows that any Native American can succeed, not only Native American, but also many ethnicity in the world can also succeed like he did. Alexie will always give credit to the Superman comic book that helped him to teach himself how to read and from that day he began to save his life.
The Use Of Tone In Superman And Me By Sherman Alexie
I have always been slower at being able to learn things. Growing up it always took me longer to learn new material and I have always needed extra help. Throughout my education I have been in programs and get accommodations on specific things. It has been hard at times because everyone will understand something and I will act like I get it but I really do not. That has been the hardest part at times, but I realized that it is ok that I need extra help or extra time on learning things. In “Superman and Me,” by Sherman Alexie he uses a variation of tones in the purpose of explaining how his childhood was rough which shows his tone through society and how he was a survivor.
Sherman opens his story with an unexpected tone that his first experiences with reading, is what influenced him and how it affected his life and his career path. An example of that is when he writes “They carry neither pencil nor pen. They stare out the window. They refuse and resist. “Books,” I say to them. “Books,” I say. I throw my weight against their locked doors. The door holds. I am smart. I am arrogant. I am lucky. I am trying to save our lives”. Alexie uses repetition when he is saying “I say to them books.” “Books,” I say. Alexie uses repetition to indicate the break between himself and all of the other Indians. He uses “I” to show his separation into his own individuality. When he uses alliteration when he says “I am arrogant. I am lucky. I am trying to save our lives”. He wants to get the point across that he survived and followed one of his passion which was teaching kids. The short sentences refer to him saying that he will not fail because he is determined and has faith in himself. As an Indian he was viewed as “dumb”. The short sentences also represent that since he taught himself how to read and write as a little boy he read all the time and he was actually smart as a young kid. He is not doing it for himself he was doing it for people so they can see that Indians can be smart too. In a way he is superman for the children. Alexie is trying to save the lives of the children of the reservation whether they want it or not. Throughout the story he also uses anaphora when he continually uses the phrases “I” was trying to save my life. “They are trying to save their lives”. I am trying to save our lives”. Alexie uses anaphora because it is another attempt to emphasize his experiences reading, and the overall importance that he places on the act of reading to succeed. Although Alexie may seem of concern to only a small group of people, it should in fact concern anyone who cares about society.
Sherman switches up the tone to society and he opens up with that he struggled as a young kid, but his desire was to be successful and do what is best for his own future and also what is true to his heritage and his culture. Alexie himself writes, “The Indian kids crowd the classroom. Many are writing their own poems, short stories and novels. They have read my books. They have read many other books. They look at me with bright eyes and arrogant wonder”. In this quote he uses repetition when he writes “They have read my books”. They have read many other books”. Alexie repeats the word “books” hoping that “books” will be an echo in the children’s minds. He wanted to get the point across that these children love to read and he is feeling accomplished because they are reading his books and he has taught them how to read. He also uses alliteration when he says “They look at me with bright eyes and arrogant wonder”. He uses alliteration because many children were confused and did not know how to write which is why they were giving him blank stares. At the end of the story he uses periodic sentence. The last sentence that would show that is emphasizing that he wants to save children’s lives and make them as educated as possible.
Many Indian children were looked as that they were not capable to learn and be as smart as others in society. Society looked at them like they can’t do anything and that they will never learn like others. Indians were expected to fail in the non-Indian world. This is why he wanted to make a difference/change in their society because it’s not fair that people looked at Indians that way. Sherman wanted to be a survivor and make and impact on the world and did not want to be seen as that Indian who wasn’t smart and was looked at as “dumb”. He wanted to give children an education that they deserved. He is a survivor because without his dad he would not be the same person as he is now. He is a survivor because he managed to stick through all the negativity but that did not stop him from following one of his passions. These findings have important implications for the border domain of social injustices.
The Theme of Self-Education in Superman and Me by Sherman Alexie
What does it really mean to be self-educated? There are many different components of what it takes to be self-educated. In the case of Sherman Alexie’s Superman and Me, we see that self-education is not only just learning what a word is, and what a few letters thrown together looks like. Instead it is taking many of those things and conceptual ideas and applying them to everyday life. Something that people don’t really think about generally is that children do this a lot. They are like sponges absorbing information from everywhere around them. I agree with Alexie’s definition on education and what it means to be literate.
As told in Superman and Me by Sherman Alexie, learning to read is not hard once you become dedicated and find some interest in it. It helps that he was surrounded by all books because it somewhat “forced” him to have an interest in his surroundings. Alexie says, “Our house was filled with books. They were stacked in crazy piles in the bathroom, bedrooms and living room. … My father loved books, and since I loved my father with an aching devotion, I decided to love books as well.” (Alexie p. 15) You can say that Alexie’s role model was his father in the sense that he wanted to love what his dad loved. This helped spark the “love/fiery interest” of learning how to read and gaining an understanding of it. What’s crazy about this story is that to the outside world Alexie was considered poor, but his father understood what reading could do for a young child. Therefore he surrounded his children in books. Even if it wasn’t the newest book, it was still some type of pathway for greater knowledge.
Young children use a lot of context clues to make sense of their surroundings. Alexie states, “The words themselves were mostly foreign, but I still remember the exact moment when I first understood, with a sudden clarity, the purpose of a paragraph.” (Alexie p. 15) When he started reading he did not know what a paragraph was but using his context clues he was able to form an idea on what it was and what its purpose was. He said, “I realized that a paragraph was a fence that held words. … They had some specific reason for being inside the same fence.” (Alexie p. 16) It’s amazing to think that a child can come up with a thought so grand and novel like that. He wasn’t only able to keep this applied to just reading, but also to the life around him. This is a huge part of being educated, when you can use what you learn and apply it to an everyday thing. In the story, Alexie says, “I began to think of everything in terms of paragraphs. Our reservation was a small paragraph within the United States. My family’s house was a paragraph… Inside our house, each family member existed as a separate paragraph but still had genetics and common experiences to link us. … At the same time I was seeing the world in paragraphs…” (Alexie p. 16) This is the moment that everything comes together. The reading and the context clues and bigger ideas become a grand thought process that people are then able to apply to multiple situations.
Being educated and literate means to have a wide span of knowledge on many different things in life. Once you open a book, that’s one more word in your vocabulary bank that will help you understand the world even more. The phrase knowledge is power, is so true because once you can read, you can understand your rights as a citizen and this, to the men who created the country, can pose a huge threat against them. It allows for minorities to rise up and rebel. Alexie tells us, “A smart Indian is a dangerous person, widely feared and ridiculed by Indians and non-Indians alike.” (Alexie p. 17) The government doesn’t want minorities to be educated enough to understand the injustices they are dealt. This is when one knows that they are truly educated. Alexie refused to live up to society’s expectations of what he was suppose to be. Living in this box was not an option for him. He says, “We were Indian children who were expected to be stupid. Most lived up to those expectations inside the classroom but subverted them on the outside. … As Indian children, we were expected to fail in the non-Indian world. Those who failed were ceremonially accepted by other Indians and appropriately pitied by non-Indians.” (Alexie p. 18) He was determined to be successful at reading and began to have a love for it. Failing was not an option for him. He even said, “I refused to fail. I was smart. I was arrogant. I was lucky.” (Alexie p. 19) In this second to last paragraph he states fourteen times “I read…” There were many instances where he would just be eager to pick up anything with words on it and read. It became an addiction sort of. But the addiction wasn’t just for laugh and giggles, it was for something much greater than that. Alexie tells us that his reason for reading so much was, “I was trying to save my life.” (Alexie p. 19) At the end of the story he tells us that he is not only trying to save his life, but he is trying to save their (Indians) lives as well.
As we have seen being educated means gaining knowledge for a purpose bigger than oneself. When one can take what they have read and apply it to a bigger meaning in life, they have unlocked many doors for themselves in life. Hard work and dedication are two major factors for getting the most knowledge out of oneself as they possibly can. Alexie has definitely shown us what it means to be self-educated and have literacy about what was read.