A Drug Called Tradition Analysis
Throughout the short story “A Drug Called Tradition,” Sherman Alexie uses the drug-induced visions of young Native Americans to symbolize the difficulties that many young indians face in finding their place in a modern world. By first using humor to describe the “second-largest party in reservation history” (Alexie 1), Alexie seems to be lightly mocking the current state of affairs amongst Native Americans by suggesting the alcohol is the strongest bond that Indians share on the reservation. After Victor, Junior, and Thomas Builds-the-Fire slip away to consume a “new drug” (Alexie 1), Alexie uses their visions of themselves and each other to portray what each of them feels constitutes a “real” Indian. Alexie seems to be pointing out how unrealistic or irrelevant Native American’s perceptions of themselves may be in a modern world, later suggesting a different and much simpler measure of a “real” indian.
After the boys take the drug and their hallucinations begin, Thomas tells the story of his first vision, in which Victor is attempting to steal a horse. Although it is not specifically stated, it seems as if this vision takes place in the past, when stealing a horse was seen as some kind of right-of-passage among Indian warriors. Thomas begins by saying that Victor “[has] braids and is stealing a horse” (Alexie 1). The vision then is told from Victor’s point of view. Victor states early on that he “needed one of their ponies. [He] needed to be a hero and earn [his] name” (Alexie 1). This seems to imply that each of the boys is struggling to find a way in their current lives and earn their place as a Native American. One important measure of a man, in their eyes, is the stereotypical abilities of an Indian warrior to sneak up on the white man undetected and steal his best horse. This message has likely been conveyed to them not by their ancestors but rather by movies and literature.
Junior is the next of the boys to relate...