Alexie's Unnatural Born Killer

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Jana E. Newton Professor Youngberg Native American Literature 22 April 2013 Alexie’s “Unnatural” Born Killer John Smith, the protagonist of Sherman Alexie’s novel Indian Killer, was not a natural born killer. Smith may have been born with a genetic predisposition towards mental illness however, that issue alone was not enough to turn him into a cold blooded killer. Alexie’s protagonist had intrapersonal issues he was unable to mediate, each one adding to Smith’s inability to form an identity. Smith lacked the ability to form a connection to the dominant Anglo community surrounding him. He was also missing a role model to help him form a positive self image. For Smith, becoming a vengeful killer was a result of the problems he failed to resolve throughout his entire life. Beginning with acts of killing and kidnapping created a vessel to channel his repressed anger. These actions also gave his live a meaningful yet misguided life purpose. Finally, by adopting the identity of an Indian avenger he felt connected to the Native American culture as his killing and kidnapping acts included objects and rituals associated with tribal traditions. Becoming an “Indian killer” gave John Smith the cultural identity he was unable to find as he lived in a society dominated by white men. From the start of Smith’s life, Anglo society held no comfortable place for young John. As a baby, John discovers immediately when he was placed in his adoptive mother’s arms that, “. . . as John takes the white woman’s right nipple into his mouth and pulls at her breast, he discovers it is empty” (8). It is apparent that his new mother knows she has no milk for the baby, but feeding him is not what matters to her. John simple fulfills the role she want to play and her need to be a mother. As an adolescent John was placed in a private Catholic school where he felt isolated and remained
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