English 111 CA
Breaking down the doors.
Can we control our own destiny? According to Sherman Alexie we can. Alexie is an American writer, he was born to a poor family on an Indian reservation. He is the author of “Superman and Me” which was published on April 19th, 1998. It is a narration of how he taught himself to read at a young age. His story explains how he refused to accept his destiny as a “dumb Indian”.
Alexie’s narration is full of vivid metaphors and personal examples. He recalls the first time that he broke through a boundary. He was looking through his superman comic. He could not read the words, so he made up what he thought they were saying. “Superman is breaking down the door.” “Once again, I pretend to read the words and say aloud, “I am breaking down the door.” In this way, I learned to read.” (64) He retells this memory with pride, after all he was only three years old. Once he learned how to read he could not ...view middle of the document...
In class they refused to raise their hands and answer the non-Indian teacher. Outside of school the same exact children had memorized long and complex songs and stories. He claimed that since he was an Indian child he was expected to fail. He refused to fail.
Alexie uses repetition in this story to get his point across. He talks about how his father would go out to “Dutch’s Pawn Shop, Goodwill, Salvation Army, and Value Village”. (63)When they had extra money he would buy books from the supermarket, bookstores, and gift shops.
“I refused to fail. I was smart. I was arrogant. I was lucky. I read books late into the night, until I could barely keep my eyes open. I read books at recess, then during lunch, and in the few minutes left after I had finished my classroom assignments. I read books in the car when my family traveled to powwows or basketball games. In shopping malls, I ran to the bookstores and read bits and pieces of as many books as I could. I read the books I borrowed from the library. I read the backs of cereal boxes. I read the magazines. I read anything that had words and paragraphs. I read with equal parts joy and desperation. I loved those books, but I also knew that love had only one purpose. I was trying to save my life” (65)
Alexie refused to let the poverty boundary hold him down. His thirst for knowledge made him successful.
Now that Alexie is a successful man, he goes to Indian reservations to speak with the students. When he writes about that experience his tone determined, almost desperate. “Books,” I say to them. “Books,” I say. I throw my weight against their locked doors. The door holds. I am smart. I am arrogant. I am lucky. I am trying to save our lives.”(65) He taught himself to read, he broke the boundaries of poverty and stereotypes. He is living proof that these children can do it too.
In conclusion Alexi’s use of vivid metaphors, changing tones, personal examples, and repetition creates a personal story that expresses an important message. You are in control of your destiny. You can be born poor and in a situation that almost guarantees failure, but you can break those walls down and succeed.
Sherman Alexie “The joy of reading with Superman and Me”
Arlington Reader, Themes for writers, Fourth Edition