Sherman Alexie Essay

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Sherman Alexie’s short essay “The Joy of Reading and Writing: Superman and Me” is about Alexie’s personal struggles and joys of literacy. Early in the essay Alexie explains how he started to learn to read by first understanding how paragraphs worked. Alexie started using the analogy that his reservation was a small paragraph within the United States just like a paragraph is a small part of a much larger story. Once he understood paragraphs, he then moved to Superman comics. Alexie also read from his father's vast collection of books, which were acquired mostly from pawnshops and second hand stores since paychecks were far and few between on the reservation. Alexie excelled past his Native American peers in reading and writing causing him to get into fights and to be ridiculed by his peers. Native American children were supposed to fail, but Alexie refused to succumb to that stereotype. Alexie fought against the stereotype just like Superman fought against evil in the comics he used to read. Alexie’s passion has lead him to become a teacher. He teaches the children on the Native American reservations to read and write since he never had a Native American teacher when he was growing up. “I refused to fail. I was smart. I was arrogant. I was lucky.” These words from Sherman Alexie perfectly put into words the motivation and attitude that took him from a poor Native American boy to the accomplished writer that he is today

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