Embodying an In-din

Sherman Alexie embodies an In-din at the very beginning of “The Unauthorized Autobiography of Me” by stating, “(t)en Indians are playing basketball” (4). Alexie could have easily just wrote that boys were playing basketball, but he didn’t. Alexie understands that most of his readers are white, and by common association his readers would imagine the bland description of “boys” to look like them, white. But, Alexie is not like his readers, he is not white, he is In-din. Alexie wants his readers to recognize this distinction at the very beginning of his work. Alexie is embodying himself in this work.

Now that Alexie has made his identity visible, it allows the reader to question what is the meaning of this visibility, why has Alexie identified himself this way. One might assume that is trying to show how he is not just an average person, an average white person. One would think Alexie would want to show how he is different. But, Alexie twists this common assumption by using it in opposition. Alexie describes how he comes home to find his mom singing to herself. Alexie states “(y)ou might assume she is singing a highly traditional Spokane Indian song” (5). But, Alexie’s mom isn’t singing some traditional song, “(s)he is singing Donna Fargo’s ‘The Happiest Girl in the USA,'” a popular pop song of the era (5). Alexie is showing a side of the In-din life style, which is unexpected. But, by the reader being surprised that Alexie’s mother is singing a pop song instead of traditional Spokane song, Alexie makes the reader feel ignorant and embarrassed about making such an uneducated assumption. He does this to almost teach the reader a lesson; don’t make an assumption about something with out knowing the facts. Alexie seems frustrated about the ignorance that the rest of the world has towards his culture. Alexie’s work is almost therapy for him. He is able to vent his frustration about the ignorance of his people while creating an autobiography at the same time.

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