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please note:

this is a mixture of my lazy academic reviews and personal moments as a mama going through academia, and it is all my own opinion, and has absolutely no affiliation with anybody else

writings & ramblings

Ten Little Indians by Sherman Alexie

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Who was the 10th Indian? This is a collection of nine stories, and the class and I were discussing this. My interpretation of the Tenth Indian is that we, the reader, is/are the tenth Indian. This is a collection of stories about human beings who experience life, trouble, heartache, grief, loss, hope and faith, and all happen to have an Indigenous culture. This book is inviting the reader to experience the stories as an insider, to see the world from the point of view as the Indians who are experiencing it, and it is a interesting interpretation to this.

My favourite story in this collection was the story about the Husband and Wife, and the Cat and the Lie, and the affair. It struck a nerve with me. It was so human, and so relatable. Starting a relationship because you were the only two Indians around, and then cultivating this relationship that everyone wanted to see you succeed in, and almost destroying it due to your own inability to tell the truth, to be seen as less of a hero – less masculine – than your strong women partner. Then her having to come to the realization that her chosen partner isn’t infallible, that he has flaws, and that she must accept imperfection if she is going to love him.

Heartbreakingly human.

The affair doesn’t come as a surprise, as their life was so mediocre after that, and so expected. Of course she had an affair, but even the language used in that discussion and the reactions noted – her refusing to allow him to comfort her as she speaks her truth, and the violent rage he then holds toward his wife. He’s surprised by the anger, then empowered by it. But then – that was it. They passively chose to stay together, to work on it, and it’s surprising how the author glosses over that struggle. The choice to stay is often harder than the choice to leave.

I couldn’t put this book down.

Another story that stuck with me was of Jackson Jackson – the homeless man who was on a quest to reclaim his Grandmother’s regalia. The yellow bead that signified his family’s work – even that quest for imperfection and identity within that tradition. The walking through the city and finding and losing relations as he went through the motions of making an losing money. Meeting and sharing food with the Aluet (sp?) who then walked into the ocean, on their own quest to go home. And finally, receiving his regal not due to his own persistence but rather, through the sympathy and generosity and awareness of who the regalia belonged to by the shop owner. This short story was an epic novel, tied down to 2000 words-isn and delivered just as strongly. Loved this story.

The novel carried a lot of messages within in – and in terms of Urban Identity, this novel viewed the city though indigenous eyes at every social level – from homeless to working lawyer. Man to woman. It carried Indigenous story through al experiences, and it was a well written book that allowed the reader to experience what the protagonist was going through. I enjoyed it.

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