“This Is What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona” Analysis

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Sherman Alexie created a story of recollection and reparation when he wrote “This Is What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona.” The story tells of a man named Victor who loses his job and then finds out his father died of a heart attack in Phoenix. He must come up with a way to get down to Arizona despite the lack of money or transportation. After being turned away with a mere hundred dollars from the Tribal Council, he ends up with an unlikely ally in the town outcast, a man named Thomas Builds-the-Fire. The two had grown up together, and were once friends, but have since become estranged. When Thomas offers to lend Victor the money for the trip he insists Victor must take him along. Victor reluctantly agrees and they make the journey together. Along the way, they reminisce about Victor’s father and mend their broken friendship. Victor is noticeably unemotional over his father’s death. The two were obviously distant and yet Victor fulfills his duty as a son and picks up his father’s remains. One could argue that he went only for the truck and the few hundred dollars his father had in the bank, though he did feel some kind of love for his father. This is proven when Victor admits that although he does not want to go into the trailer where his father died, he must because “there might be something valuable in there… pictures and letters and stuff like that” (419). The mundane tone Alexie uses emphasizes the sad routines one follows after a loved one dies; life continues. Alexie’s use of transitions between the present and memories of the past represent the memories that often pervade one’s mind when the experience a loss. Victor remembers a less complicated time from when he and Thomas were still friends. Then he remembers how their friendship crumbles as he sides with the rest of the boys who call Thomas weird and tease him. He does not remember
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