The tale of a young boy from an Indian reservation is depicted in Sherman Alexie’s short story “Indian Education.” Victor, a young boy, progresses through the school system from first grade to post-graduation, and Alexie examines how he dealt with numerous problems from his classmates and teachers during his studies. The story is told in the first person, and many threads of Victor’s school struggles are told throughout the plot (Battaglia, 2017). As a result, through the gradual narrative of Victor’s educational experience, Alexie allows his audience to observe Victor’s life and see how he dealt with various struggles during his school years.
On the first grade, Alexi illustrates how Victor joins the school, and he feels awkward due to his short hair that he was not used to. On his first winter in school, Victor becomes the center of disturbance from the other students and throughout the day, he is chased and buried in snow (Alexie & Walter, 2013). The fellow students scold victor, steal his glasses and fall him down on the snow various times. For this reason, his is nicknamed Victor Falls. On the second grade, Victor is disliked by a teacher who forces him to stay in recess for two weeks. He is punished for no reason and insulted for being an Indian.
Throughout the short story, Alexie manages to capture the instances and life situations that Victor went through in his educational journey. From the story, we can reflect Victor’s challenges with other similar children’s challenges that they go through especially in foreign society. It is evident that the situations that Victor went through are not any different from what most students encounter, especially the international students face while pursuing their academic journey.
Several themes are analyzed in the story of Victor, and most of the situations resemble real case scenarios. The theme of brotherhood is portrayed by Alexie in the story, and this is seen when Victor is in the ninth grade. This is illustrated when Victor falls in the gym and faints, but his white friends came to his rescue and taking him to the hospital. Furthermore, Alexie writes that ‘Sharing dark skin does not necessarily make two men brother (Alexie, 1993).” In this illustration, the author indicated that brotherhood calls for more than just same culture, but it requires the sense of brotherly love, care, and concern for each other. This particular scenario could also be used to provide a positive social enlightenment to teach people in the society about brotherhood.
The theme of resilience is also illustrated in the short story, and Victor’s challenges may be a good example to propagate this theme. Resilience is the aspect of undergoing through difficult challenges and being able to recover from them. From the story, Victor feels alienated from the society of white boys and is punished wrongfully by his teachers. However, Victor manages to deal with the situation through enacting a sarcastic front that helps him to withstand both emotional and physical insults. His sarcastic nature helps him not to handle things responsibly and maturely and thus uses it as his self-defense to remain resilient (Alexie & Walter, 2013). Furthermore, Victor chose Randy to be his best friend since he could personally connect with him. He also liked Randy’s character of defending himself from bullying and thus learnt how to cope with his challenges.
Alexie also illustrates the theme of discrimination where Victor experiences bullying and segregation due to being an Indian. The aspect of discrimination more sore manifests itself through the behavior and attitude of his teachers and students towards him. “For instance, a second-grade teacher known as Betty Towle punishes Victor rather than rewarding him for passing his spelling test (Alexie, 1993).” Furthermore, a teacher in the ninth grade assumes that Victor is an alcoholic just because he is a Native American. Therefore, it is evident that the mental scene emanated by Alexie portrays the actual scenario that occurs in our modern educational institutions. There have been reported various cases of discrimination due to racial and cultural disparity, and most students tend to suffer emotionally, thus affecting their grades. For Victor, he managed to face the racial segregation and was able to cope with the intense challenges that he faced.
In conclusion, the ‘Indian Education’ story by Sherman Alexie illustrates the school life of Victor who studied in America, while he was an Indian. It is evident that throughout the story, Victor’s academic journey has not been a smooth one and due to his racial affiliation, he suffered both physically and emotionally. Various themes such as brotherhood, resilience, and discrimination can be identified from the story, and they have been essential in shaping the plot of the story. Through the short story, Victor manages to illustrate the real life challenges that students face, especially for those who are pursuing studies in foreign places.
Alexie, S. (1993). Indian Education. Short Stories, 1-14.
Alexie, S., & Walter, J. (2013). The Lone Ranger and Tonto fistfight in heaven.
Battaglia, S. (2017). The Theme of the Short Story “Indian Education”. The pen and the Pad.