Smoke Signals Essay, Research Paper
The relationship between Victor and Thomas in the movie Smoke Signals is what gives the stories that Sherman Alexie weave they’re meaning. Their relationship grows from acquaintances, to veritable enemies, to close friends. This shifting in association gives the movie a very heartwarming effect. It showed that these young Indian boys overcame the obstacles that had separated them, and while doing this became close friends. In the opening scene we are exposed to how Thomas’ family becomes indebted to Victor’s. Victors father rescued Thomas from the burning building that killed his parents. We are not made aware of the fact that Victor’s father had in fact started the fire as well. Leaving this detail unknown until the end of the movie allows the audience the chance to come to their own conclusions about Victor’s father, before his personality is revealed by his neighbor. During the movie, Thomas tried to befriend Victor, but usually to no avail. The other children consider Thomas a “dork” and Victor did not speak to him very much. The scene after Victor’s father left, where Victor beats Thomas into oblivion for making a rude remark about Victor’s dad and the scene on the basketball court shows us this feeling of annoyance that Victor holds about Thomas. For unknown reasons, however, Thomas continued to try to befriend Victor. Thomas feels that he has a spiritual connection to Victor’s father, and enjoys telling Victor stories about his absent dad. When Victor’s father is reported to have died, Victor had to go to Arizona and gather his father’s personal belongings as well as his trusty old pick up truck. Thomas, who had accumulated quite a sum of money over the years, offered to give the necessary money to Victor as long as he is allowed to come along. This journey is the turning point in the young men’s lives. This journey allows each boy to find out who they really are and it forms a tight bond between the two boys. While on the trip to Arizona, Victor explained to Thomas why the way he dresses is not appropriate for a young Indian man. He had him change his appearance to fit the standard dress of the reservation.
Victor is annoyed with Thomas for most of the trip. His constant ranting about Victor’s deceased family member wearied Victor. During the time that they spent together at his father’s trailer, Victor came to appreciate life and becomes more open towards Thomas. Although he doesn’t admit it outright, Victor befriended Thomas. In the closing scenes of the movie we are showed this compassionate side of Victor. In the end of the movie, when Victor spreads his father’s ashes into the river, we are shown that Victor has come to peace with his father. He now realizes why he left, and why he never came back. When Thomas asks Victor why his father left, for the first time during the course of their relationship, Victor did not get upset. Instead he though about it, looked back on his life, thought about his father, and came up with an answer. “He didn’t mean to,” was what Victor decided. What a contrast this is from the beginning of the movie, when Thomas asks Victor about his father leaving and then gets beaten until Thomas’ mother breaks up the fight. This proves that Victor and Thomas’ relationships have undergone major changes during the course of the film. We are shown how two boys, alike only by race, are brought together as friends and equals.