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Indian Education- Use of Humor Essay

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Laughter is often called the best medicine, and while Sherman Alexie probably wasn’t laughing, or intending for the readers to laugh, when he wrote his essay, Indian Education, he does include some humor, often dark humor, into it. Including humor isn’t uncommon when an author writes a serious piece of work such as Indian Education. The humor is meant not to make people laugh so much as it is to lessen the seriousness or pain even that the author and reader might feel while writing or reading this essay. Alexie often directs his humor on the people who made his life difficult and miserable during his school career. He does this to make his essay more enjoyable while still maintaining its seriousness and validity, and also to ease his own pain of these memories.

Alexie’s first usages of humor occur within the second or perhaps even in the first grade although the humor may be less obvious. In second grade he describes his redheaded teacher, Betty Towle, as being ”so ugly no one has ever had a puppy crush on her.” He then goes on to describe her as a witch when he draws a picture of her “riding a broom with a scrawny cat on the back.” He also mentions in the second grade what punishments she forced upon him, such as standing in a corner, eating one of his own tests, and also the racism she openly chastised him with. Remembering Betty Towle as an ugly witch may ease the pain he felt then and is bringing back up now and is also effective in adding the humorous aspect of his teacher for the readers. In first grade he also includes humor but in a different way. He does this when he is describing the names the bullies would call him, such as “Cries-Like-a-White-Boy.” That in itself is a funny name, but one might not want to laugh or grin at it because it wouldn’t be nice to be called that so laughing might seem inappropriate, which makes it dark humor.
The humor in Indian Education gets progressively darker and more inappropriate. In the third grade Alexie describe...

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