Essay Sample: Life and Times Literature in Historical and Biographical Contexts

Published: 2019-05-16 17:29:14
Essay Sample: Life and Times Literature in Historical and Biographical Contexts
Categories: History Literature Biography
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1461 words
13 min read

Born in 1966, Sherman Alexie has had a huge impact in the world through literature. The literary works by Sherman possess both experience and knowledge that is not only important to the world of literature, but the world in its holistic nature. How Sherman relates his own personal experiences to what is actually happening in the real world is magical. Apparently, it seems like Sherman possesses uniqueness in everything that he ever laid his hands on: from the period in which he was brought up, the life that he lived and most importantly the works that he laid his hands on (Berglund and Roush 74). This paper looks at Sherman Alexie through his work "The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven."

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Sherman Alexie was born in the year 1966. In what could be significant in his entire life, Sherman Alexie parents came from different racial backgrounds. As his mother was of American-European descent, his father was Indian. In his anatomy though, Sherman looked more like an Indian than a European or a Native American. This must have been the beginning of challenges that Sherman would later face in life (Berglund and Roush 78). The name did not make the matters any better. In his life, problems were looming right from birth. It is after birth that the emergence of infamous hydrocephalous was noted on Sherman Alexie (FallsApart.1).

People born with hydrocephalous possess some quantity of water in their brain cells that if not cured can lead to acute mal-functioning of the brain; or even death of the victim. Parents took the young Sherman for brain operation at the age of six months. The attending doctors advised that he would survive, albeit with mental retardations. They were further counseled that Sherman could that in his life Sherman would not be capable of executing duties that needed intensive mental involvement. Nonetheless, all these predictions did not come to mature and at the age of three, Sherman was able to read. At the age of five, was already involved with reading novels. It is during one of these readings that he noticed how much he was more related to India than to America (FallsApart 1).

Schooling was not easy for Sherman. Even though he was a very brilliant student, still he was avoided by some of his friends who felt that he did not belong with them. At teen-age, Sherman opted for an all-white school in Reardan, WA. It was his belief in doing well at school that he decided to join a high school that did not have even a single Indian as a student. Sherman graduated from high school in 1985. He did well both in creative writing and literature. However, at the time of his graduation from high school, he could not predict life with literature beyond just passing the examinations.

Sherman joined Washington state university in 1985 and decided to pursue a career in medicine. The human anatomy classes were not friendly to him. After several struggles with fainting, Sherman joined literature- specifically poetry that would define the personality that he has achieved to date. The life lived by Sherman did not however stop at education and racial discrimination. Before joining the Washington State University, Sherman was indulged in alcoholism. It is the context in combination with the life which he lived that led Sherman into alcoholism. At the age of 23, Sherman was inspired by literature that he decided to quit drinking immediately after hearing of the eminent release of The Business of Fancydancing by Hanging Loose Press; something that he really had waited for. He has since remained sober (FallsApart.1).

To date, Sherman has published extensively thereby winning many awards. If anyone takes a look at all Shermans works and the same to his biography, they would notice that they exhibit conspicuous relationships. Sherman seems to talk always about his own personal life in literature. It can be difficult to understand for new readers, chronological readers would see the influence that personal life has played in literature by Sherman.

This paper analyzes Shermans work of "The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven" to shade more light on how time and personal life are manifest in his work. "The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven" is a group of open end stories demonstrating the cast of similar characterization in varied clusters. Young male protagonist (Victor) is used to display the problems and the struggles that young generations of some racial backgrounds face during their development. The blurb reveals how despair for better life, alienations, poverty struggles and drug abuse constitute the struggles that the specific group of young males encounter (FallsApart.1).

The cast is taken in the late twentieth century. A proper analysis however has to take into consideration the period in which the author was born and the struggle he went through in his early life. It should be remembered that the 1960s all the way to the 1980s saw America fighting a battle against color discrimination. Basically, anybody who was born in this period had a gist of the ill. Sherman is not exclusion when it comes to racial discrimination. He saw the struggle in childhood all the way to college. According to him the lives of the Indians was based on survival (Alexie 479). Victor is quoted as saying, whole lives have to do with survival.

The problems that Sherman went through in his early life are reflected everywhere in this piece of literature. The story starts with a suggestive statement, Too hot to sleep so I walked down to the Third Avenue. It is very evident the location in the narrator is situated. The worrying aspect is the history that the narrator shares with his context. Often, he got robbed a long these street. Same as in the biography, the protagonists life is surrounded with problems. Not only at home is the narrator unable to settle, he cannot walk freely in the corridors and streets of their home. Notably, when he was indulged in alcoholism, he was not close to his parents. Home to Sherman posed more problems than what he could encounter on the streets (Alexie 478).

Sherman continues to relate his life with literature in the conversation she meets at the store on the streets. Even though they know each other so well, the lady still insists on how she does not trust Victor. The reason that she gives for the lack of trust is that Victor gets angry so easily. As it would be revealed later, these allegations are wrong and the lady is simply judging based on how she knows other Indians. This is an aspect of discrimination that Sherman talks when he gets to be interviewed with Ase. Sherman says that he did not know the importance that being Indian brought to him quoting, even though I was growing up in reservation, Ihad never really been shown Indian literature, there was no possibility growing up (Ase 173).

Drug abuse is another aspect of personal life that Sherman has brought into his literature. The conversation between Victor and the police officer he encounters at the store is evident. First, the officer does not trust that he could be walking with no drugs at all (176). What ensues is a long interview between the officer and victor. Based on the language that he uses, Victor indicates a strong sense of guilt that even the officer can sense. In his personal life, Sherman indulged in alcoholism almost at the same age as Victor. Even though the biography does not exhibit the encounter with the police, it is evident that he walked with guilt in his days with drug abuse (Ase 183).


The primary function of literature is to give the audience the other side of the story. Different authors use different techniques to reach these audiences. Sherman Alexie has used a very different approach. Alexies works are specific to the audience and reflect his life right from the struggles that he went through such as drug abuse coupled with discrimination. The role that time has played in Shermans literature cannot be ignored as well. Significantly, h grew up in a time when the nation struggled with the same problems that he faced. As has been witnessed herein, the relationship between the personal life of Sherman, his literature and time are very conspicuous.

Works Cited

Alexie, Sherman. The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven. New York : Grove Press. b.1966. Print.

Berglund, Jeff and Roush , Jan. Sherman Alexie:A Collection of Critical Essays. Salt Lake City:The University of Utah Press. 2010. Print.

FallsApart. Sherman Alexie:A Biography from the authors official website. FallsApart Productions 27.5.15. < >

Ase, Nygren. A World of Story-Smoke: A Conversation with Sherman Alexie. Blekinge Institute of Technology.

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