Indian Education Or Why Am I Talking About It

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Cover Letter

I am writing this cover letter because my goal is for you as the reader to be able to understand the short story “Indian Education” without having to read it all yourself. My audience is whoever is reading this, which is most likely my professor; Lucinda T. Boese, or my classmates. I do not know how much of the short story “Indian Education” you know, but my job is to make sure you have no questions by the end of the reading. I received some peer reviews on my half draft and I plan on adding in the good suggestions from my fellow classmates. I was told to not have such big jumps between my years of describing the story. In my half draft, my instructor pointed out that I had a few things misspelled and not written properly. I have revised my own half draft to fix these mistakes to make a great final draft.

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A Deeper Analysis of “Indian Education”

This short story, “Indian Education” follows the life of Sherman Alexie throughout his schooling years. I will be giving an overview of what the Alexie shares in this story. My goal is to help you understand the story and why it was written. Sherman Alexie is a member of the Spokane Indian tribe in Wellpinit, Washington. Alexie had always been bullied and teased even in the Indian Reservation. He knew that if he stayed at the school on the reservation, he wouldn’t be getting the best education for himself. Considering this, Alexie decided to attend a school outside of the Reservation. After graduating, some of his poems, short stories, and screenplays were published.

Alexie starts his schooling journey in the first grade. He tells about one student, in particular, Frenchy SiJohn that would bully him with no extra help. Alexie finally had had enough of being the victim, so he pushed Frenchy down to the ground and began to punch him. Alexie says “It’s a good day to die, it’s a good day to die” all the way down to the principal’s office. (Alexie) I believe that that was the day that Alexie understood that he needed to stand up for himself. As a first-grader, he understood that getting in trouble or dying didn’t seem like such a big deal because he was sticking up for himself. He continues his story through his schooling years and each year he gives us examples of what life was like for an Indian boy. Alexie even dealt with a racist teacher in second grade. Her name was Betty Towle and she treated Alexie different from everyone else in his class. She would give him spelling tests that were meant for junior high kids. Despite receiving harder spelling tests, Alexie aced them all. Mrs. Towle couldn’t handle Alexie’s success and would force him to eat his tests. She believed that Alexie was being disrespectful when he did well on tests. She said, “You’ll learn respect” right after she made him eat his perfectly scored test. She even sent a letter home to Alexie’s parents to complain about Alexie’s braids. She had written that his braids must be cut or else he would have to stay home. His parents went to Mrs. Towle’s desk and dragged their very own braids over her desks. She seemed disgusted and began to say, “indians, indians, indians”. Alexie responded with “Yes I am, I am Indian. Indian, I am.” (Alexie) What stands out most is that his parents show how proud they are to be Indian and at the end Alexie shows that he is also proud to be Indian. Alexie reveals in fourth grade that his life at home is not great. His father was an alcoholic and his mother started things she never finishes. His parents wept just about every day. They were not in their right minds. I believe that Alexie’s parents represent all of the other Indian parents within the reservation. Alexie was told by his teacher that the tribe would benefit if he became a doctor. He went home that day and looked at himself in the mirror and pretended to be a Doctor being called to the emergency room. At this point in his life, he expects to become someone great.

In eighth grade, he talks about the girls in his school with anorexia and bulimia. Alexie once said to the girls “Give me your lunch if you’re just going to throw it up.” His mother stood in long lines for commodities and even though the food was horrendous, they were happy to eat. At this point, he realizes that life isn’t going to get better if he stays in this situation. I believe that Alexie sees what life will be like if he doesn’t get a proper education. He will be living just like his father and his family would have to eat the same horrendous canned beef. He wants a better life than what is expected of him. Things got a little better in high school because he was the star basketball player but it still wasn’t the best life.

It was ninth grade year, the school dance was right after a hard game that Alexie played. The gym was filled and the air flow was lacking. Alexie had passed out during the dance and his hispanic teacher assumed that he had been drinking because of Alexie’s ethnicity. Many people would think that the only people that can be racist are white people, but that is completely wrong. Alexie learns this and says ” Sharing dark skin doesn’t necessarily make two men brothers.” (Alexie) He understood that even someone that shares the same complexion can have stereotypes against him and his race.

Wally Jim, a man with a good job, a wife, and two kids killed himself the day Alexie received his Washington State driver’s license. It was not uncommon for an Indian man to give into suicide during this time and within this tribe. “Believe me, everything looks like a noose if you stare at it long enough.” Alexie has said. This makes me realize that Alexie has also thought about suicide.

After graduating he talks about his former classmates on the reservation. Near the end of Alexie’s short story, he says “The bright students are shaken, frightened because they don’t know what comes next.” This stands out because I think he is talking about himself. He doesn’t know what he is supposed to do or where he is supposed to go. All Alexie knows right now is that he proved the stereotypes wrong and he is proud of himself.

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