Exploring Racial Stereotypes In Flight Patterns English Literature Essay

Entrenched within the racially charged duologue between the chief character and the cab driver in Sherman Alexie ‘s Flight Patterns is the undermentioned declaration: “ I have a narrative about contradictions ” ( Alexie 58 ) . However, the contradictions that permeate the narrative exist simply as smaller edifice blocks of the greatest contradiction ; in seeking to turn to, surmount, and interrupt through common stereotypes, Sherman Alexie really reinforces perceptual experiences of the American Indian as angry and acrimonious against the dominant population, the African American adult male as a victim of his minority ‘s societal stationariness, and the white American as the shockable workaholic. Systematically call on the carpeting the reader with ways in which William, a Spokane Indian, views his universe through the lens of civilization, Alexie does non win in fade outing any stereotypes but, alternatively, fortifies them so wholly that there is small hope of an indifferent interaction within the Flight Patterns ‘ existence.

The most successful stereotype munition is manifested within the chief character. Alexie attempts to make handiness to William by affording him the features of the mundane, race-less American. William hits the snooze button at 5:05am, longs to remain place with his household, has a fright of winging, but still goes to work in malice of his dispositions ( Alexie 49 ) . However, William rapidly develops as an angry Native American who perceives the universe in footings of race, gender, and, most saliently, discreteness. Alexie describes William as follows: “ He was an enrolled member of the Spokane Indian folk, but he was besides a full recognized member of the notebook-computer folk and the security-checkpoint folk and the rental-car folk, and the hotel-shuttle-bus folk and the cell-phone-roaming-charge-tribe ” ( 53 ) ; this is declarative of how the working, going adult male is someway contradictory to the American Indian adult male. In foregrounding the differences between the two individualities, Alexie is strengthening the stereotype that the American Indian is non typically a hard-working concern adult male. William grapples with this seemingly contradictory individuality, systematically accommodating his mundane life with his civilization: “ I am a Native American and hence have ten thousand more grounds to terrorise the U.S. than any of those Taliban tossers, but I have chosen alternatively to go a civic American citizen, so all of you white folks should be observing my kindness and moral decency and amazing ability to forgive! ” ( Alexie 54 ) . William is the incarnation of bitterness and unsolved hurting, both features birthed from perceptual experiences of his cultural civilization as non contributing to a life style that so apparently corresponds to the American ideal.

Existing in analogue to the angry Native American is the stereotype of the African American adult male as a victim of his fortunes. Fekadu is an Ethiopian cab driver who regales William with his life-tale as an Oxford-educated combatant pilot who defected after a soldier ‘s moral quandary, go forthing his married woman and kids to be potentially killed. Fekadu proudly contends that Ethiopia has ne’er been conquered by “ white people, ” and yet he continues by acknowledging that he was a “ coward for go forthing ” ( Alexie 59-60 ) . Fekadu drives a cab cab in Seattle because returning place would be unsafe, with “ excessively much history and hurting ” ( Alexie 60 ) . In trying to border Fekadu as a brave adult male who had the bravery to go forth a life in which he was forced to kill guiltless people, Alexie fortifies the stereotype of the Black adult male as victim of societal stationariness. Fekadu has made no effort to travel place to see his household and is seemingly contented to drive a cab cab in Seattle for the “ remainder of [ his ] yearss ” ( 59 ) .

Fekadu and William bond over their common enemy, cementing the 3rd, most outstanding, racial stereotype in Flight Patterns. When William recounts his fright of winging following September 11th, acknowledging that he was trusting to be surrounded by “ 25, NRA-loving, gun-nut, consecutive violent death, psychopathologic, Ollie North, Norman Schwarzkopf, right-wing, Agent Orange, post-traumatic emphasis upset, CIA, FBI, automatic arm, smart-bomb, laser-sighting assholes ” while he flew, Fekadu exclaims “ imagine wanting to be surrounded by white bulls! ” ( Alexie 58 ) . Fekadu and William are united merely by the fact that they are a minority who has been burned by the stereotypes of white work forces. However, both Fekadu and William exude inordinate hatred toward white work forces, in general. While this framing of white Americans as naught more than nescient, conservative workaholics was likely purposeful in conveying Alexie ‘s dominant message that “ we are all trapped by other peoples ‘ ideas- ” and the dominant population may be merely as trapped by stereotypes as minorities- the writer uses such racially charged descriptions of white Americans that there is no hope for the transcendency of those stereotypes ( 57 ) ; this is the Southern Cross of job with Alexie ‘s message.

Presumably, the writer wants to alarm the reader as to the ways in which stereotypes can border full populations in footings of their history, beliefs, and other culture-specific traits. The “ flight form ” is the inclination to comprehend races in footings of us-versus-them. However, in showing such a racially permeated narrative without hope of exceeding stereotypes, Alexie has placed a broad cleft in the foundation for his message. The lone positive words in the narrative come from William ‘s girl, who seems to be the lone character to acknowledge the humbleness of visual aspect: “ I do n’t desire long hair, I do n’t desire short hair, I do n’t desire hair at all, and I do n’t desire to be a miss or a male child. I want to be a xanthous and orange leaf some small child picks up and pastes in his scrapbook ” ( Alexie 51 ) . In neglecting to turn to the potency for a hereafter in which stereotypes do non be, Alexie closes William ‘s universe as a topographic point in which Native Americans will everlastingly be acrimonious, African Americans will everlastingly be victims, and white Americans will everlastingly be responsible for all racial subjugation.