Sherman Alexie Essay
In the following short story “The Joy of Reading and Writing: Superman and Me”, Sherman Alexie tells his readers about his pain and suffering growing up in an Indian Reservation. Everyone was expected to follow the status quo; moronic, idiotic, and uneducated, but Alexie refused, seeing how his father read and went to school, Alexie wanted to be like his father, educated. He was strong and was not afraid of what might the other kids or parents say about him behind his back; he broke from the status quo. Sherman Alexie grew up on an Indian Reservation in Spokane, WA. He tells us in the beginning of the story that he learned to read “… ith a Superman comic book. ” (1).
Reading that comic book is what started everything for Alexie, growing up his family was not wealthy, in fact he tells us they were “… middle-class by reservation standards. ” (1). His family was different among others because his father went to a Catholic school, his father adored reading from westerns, spy thrillers, murder mysteries, gangster epics, etc… he could pretty much read anything he can get his hands on to. Even though they did not have much money, his father would find ways to buy books, their whole house was full of books “… ought his books by the pound… goodwill, salvation army… Our house was filled with books… stacked in the bathrooms, bedrooms… ” (2). With this habit of reading and collecting a plethora of books, this trickled down to Alexie. Teaching himself how to read was not easy, picking up his first book and seeing those words and those words forming sentences and then forming paragraphs, was all Alexie could see. He realized that these words he is reading meant something that “… a paragraph was a fence that held words. “(3). He started “… seeing the world in paragraphs… “(3).
But picking up and reading the Superman comic book would change him forever. He looked at that comic book in different ways, seeing as how he could not read he just looked at the illustrations. Alexie was smart enough to figure out was Superman was doing in those pictures “Superman is breaking down the door. ” (4). He pretends to say that Superman is kicking down the door, even though it does not say it on the comic “Because he is breaking down the door, I assume he says, “I am breaking down the door””(4). With this skill he practiced and honed, his reading skills kept growing and growing.
Sherman Alexie taught himself how to read at an early age. After the Superman comic, he read books that a normal boy his age could not even read “… reads “Grapes of Wrath” in kindergarten… “(5). While all the other kids read and struggle with books at their level, Alexie surpasses them. Furthermore he explains to us how if “he’d been anything but an Indian boy living on the reservation, he might have been called a prodigy”(5). Being an Indian who was smart and was educated was considered by Indian standards a dangerous person, “A smart Indian is a dangerous person… “(6).
But Alexie did not care of what others thought about him, he was strong, courageous and was not afraid of anyone. “I refused to fail. I was smart. I was arrogant… “(8). With all of the books he read throughout his young years, Sherman Alexie grew up to be a writer and a teacher, he taught other kids in the reservation that reading is not wrong that it is okay to have an education and have a more better brighter future, and that it is okay to bend or break the status quo if it means bettering yourself. A human or person rather, not the same in the way they act or think or educated even to their “family” or “tribe” would be ridiculed.
Each and every day you see someone of your ethnicity you would be looked down upon because you are not the same. But who cares, if being different or breaking the status quo means for you to have a better education or even future, then should not you do what is best for you. Breaking trends and rules are not bad, if it means for it to be for the good of yourself, others and humanity, then break them. But if you are just going to follow the status quo because other people are doing it then you are better off on your own, because being and individual is what makes you, you.