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In Reservation Blues (1995), Spokane/Coeur d'Alene author Sherman Alexie explores the lingering effects of colonization and historical trauma on contemporary Indigenous Peoples. Through Magical Realism and traditional narrative strategies, readers witness the struggles of Indigenous Americans living on reservations in the northwest region of the United States. In this presentation, I examine the central characters who "fall down," "fall apart," or "find home" after forming a band to achieve their dreams and propel themselves out of poverty. Junior and Victor embody “falling apart” and “falling down” narrative motifs: Junior “falls apart” by committing suicide, while Victor “falls down” by refusing to make emotional progress and potentially plans on drinking himself to death. Despite these characters falling down and falling apart, other characters such as Thomas, Checkers, and Chess conclude the novel closer to home, figuratively, by leaving the reservation. Finding a literal and figurative home generates characteristics such as contentment, mutability, and hope; on the other hand, not finding a literal and figurative home leads to despair, stasis, and sometimes death. Exploring the concept of home in Reservation Blues enables us to witness the effects of historical trauma that reverberates in the lives of working and poverty-class American Indians. Through these characters, Alexie suggests that leaving the reservation and moving to their ancestral lands in the city of Spokane is a route for achieving economic and emotional stability while retaining ethno-cultural heritage.


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19 Jul 2022
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  • Event location
    • Nesbitt 3110

  • Event date
    • 3 November 2018

  • Date submitted

    19 July 2022