What It Means to Say Phoenix Arizona

8 August 2016

Although some people may not think too much of things as insignificant as names or symbols, there is always a reason an author puts them in a story. Sherman Alexi’s “This Is What It Means To Say Phoenix Arizona” is a great example of a story that is full of many different kinds of symbolism, ranging from animals to people, even the story’s title. Understanding of Alexi’s symbols in the story is crucial in understanding the meaning of the story as a whole. A symbol is anything that stands for, or represents, something else.

Its place in any story is to add depth, often emphasizing the message or meaning of a story as a whole. The symbolism in “This Is What It Means To Say Phoenix Arizona” is what adds depth to the characters and events that take place in the story. Without an understanding of these symbols, ones interpretation of the work, or any work, can be incomplete and lacking in substance. However, a rich understanding of symbols can often transcend the literature itself and allow the reader to question his or herself on an intellectual or emotional level, and of course allows a deeper understanding of the text.

What It Means to Say Phoenix Arizona Essay Example

The main symbol of the story is the mythological bird, the Phoenix. Not only is it’s ideology found several times throughout the story, it’s in the story’s own title. A Phoenix, according to Egyptian mythology is a bird that lives for one thousand years only to be engulfed in flames at the end of it, and is reborn from its own ashes. Perhaps the strongest allusion to the Phoenix is found in Victor’s journey. Throughout the story you can see his transformation. In the beginning of the story you can see that Victor is angry, and is uncaring of his heritage.

All he cares about is getting to Phoenix and claiming is father’s ashes. He encounters Thomas Builds-the-fire, who is described as a “storyteller whom nobody listens to”. Victor says he “keeps telling the same damn stories”, indicating that he feels the same way about him as everybody else. However, towards the end of their journey he looks at Thomas in a different light. He learns from him and in doing so, learns about himself. His self-rediscovery of his heritage and home is similar to the rebirth of a Phoenix. Another source of strong symbolism in the story is found in the characters names.

Victor being the protagonist is the easiest to figure out. Victor’s name is often interpreted as “Victory” or being victorious. His name is very closely related to his journey, as he struggles to find himself throughout the story but triumphs, emerging victorious at the end. Thomas Builds-the-fire’s name refers to his role as the storyteller in the story, and his character is interpreted as the attachment to the “old ways” of the Indian tribe. Symbolism in a story is arguably one of the most important things to take into account when trying to understand a story’s message or meaning.

Without the knowledge of the significance found in Victor’s character and name, it’s more difficult to understand his contribution to the meaning of Alexi’s story. The Phoenix, being the main symbol of the story is equally as important in the story’s interpretation because if you understand the nature of the Phoenix you can understand the nature of Victor’s journey, which is one of birth and self-discovery. Perhaps the story can inspire us to look into ourselves and allow us to have an experience of rebirthing of our own.

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