Sherman Alexie And Voice

In “The Unauthorized Autobiography of Me” Sherman Alexie uses voice as an intricate part of his story. As mentioned in “A Tool Kit” from Reading Autobiography, the chapter on voice reminded me of three main factors in Alexie’s story that stood out.

First being, Alexie plays around with collective vs. individual voices.¬†Although he is telling his story, the narrator categorizes people into the “i” (real native americans) and the “you” (everyone else, heavier perhaps on caucasians). For most of the stories he speaks for that collective of people and yet he breaks down stereotypes of the “collective” by inserting his own individual voice throughout. This also relates to my second point: theme.

Voice helps the reader understand the theme of the story. In this case, Alexie’s voice is often sarcastic, lonely, angry and sad at some moments. This goes along with the theme of his autobiography – where most of the writing is centered around the “i”‘s relation to the “you”. His voice here helps illuminate the themes of displacement and alienation throughout.

Lastly, his voices are often conflicting. On the one hand his voice is playing into the stereotypes of his cultural (like all the boys lining up behind the drums) and at the same dismissing stereotypes (like when his mom is humming american songs on the radio). At times he seems sad and loney, at other times his voice is angry and cynical. All of these factors are part of the difference voices within the self. Alexie did a good job drawing me in to the story with voice. I’ve read this piece before, and really enjoyed reading again for this class!

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One Response to Sherman Alexie And Voice

  1. Anton Vander Zee says:

    Great post, though I’d like to have more concrete (quoted) examples from Alexie’s text–that’s where these more general observations about voice will really take on some heft. You might also quote Smith and Watson on what they mean by “voice” and what you take away from that. Anyway–thought for the pre-spring-break revisions…

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