Fistfight In Heaven Essay, Research Paper
Leandro Tane dos Santos
September 14th, 2000
Analysis on The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven and Smoke Signals
Sherman Alexie based on some short stories included in his book, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, wrote the screenplay for the movie Smoke Signals. Both the movie and the book portray problems that Indians had to deal with, and how they dealt with it. The book is far more complex than the movie, showing a wider variation of characters facing different situations.
In the movie there is Victor, the main character, which tries to be the typical Indian, or maybe just a typical man. He shows just hate towards his father, who left Victor and his mother alone and fled to Phoenix. The picture Victor has about his father is that he was an alcoholic and always tried to talk with his fists.
On the other hand there is Thomas, the other main character. He lives a mystical life and is far more emotional than Victor. Thomas has also another point of view about Victor s father. He remembered him as a nice guy, who took him to Denny s once.
When Victor s father died, Thomas offered money to help Victor to get to Phoenix and get his father s ashes and belongings, as long as he could go with Victor. On this part of the movie, it is easy to understand how Victor sees the Indians before the whites. On the bus, he tells Thomas that the only way that white people would respect them is by being serious; showing no feelings, not even a smile, being a warrior.
In the movie, Victor arrives to the place where his father ashes are and meets a woman named Suzy. Even though she said so many good things about his father and about things he was afraid of, Victor did not want to show any compassion for his father. It is like the story on Real Boys, Inside the World of Boys: Behind the Mask of Masculinity. Victor was hiding behind this mask so he would not show his emotions. However, after the accident, he began to think about his father. He understood that no one could be perfect and he finally saw that he really loved his father.
The book has many short stories that sometimes are connected with others. The book focuses mainly on showing the degraded Indian society, where everyone is or will be an alcoholic. The story The Only Traffic Signal on the Reservation Doesn t Flash Red Anymore (Alexie p. 43-53) is an example of how the author depicts alcoholism in the Indian society. In this story there is a young Indian that could have a nice future playing basketball. However, he turns out to be just like most of the other Indians in his reservation. He was committing crimes and then started drinking.
By reading the book, the author showed me was that the only thing left for the remaining Native Americans is to drink, since everything they once had has disappeared. Most part of the book is about Indians having bad experiences in life and facing the loss of their tradition.
The book and the movie are great examples of how a man, or boy, tries to behave like a man that has no fear, no pain, no love, and does not need help. Both pieces prove that in all societies, men have this necessity to say: everything is alright.
Alexei, S. The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven.
Harper Perennial 1994.
Pollack, W. Real Boys. Inside the World of Boys:
Behind the Mask of Masculinity.