Sherman Alexie Critical Reading Journal (CRJ) - AP Language & Composition - CRJ

870 words - 4 pages

Sherman Alexie, an American Indian raised on the Spokane Reservation who values
equal rights and education rights for Indians in particular, in his essay discussed the difficulties
that Alexie faced in school because of his intelligence. The author helps get his point across to
the reader by using analogies to frame the essay and by repeating phrases throughout the
piece. Alexie convinces non-indians and other majority groups by using a melancholy tone
that everyone should be treated as equal and should not be taught that they are unable to
achieve great academic potential based on stereotypes or assumptions about their ethnicity
because those degrading thoughts become engraved in their minds.
Alexie’s use of analogies in the story help prove to the reader that he was denied an
equal education from his teachers based on the assumption that Native Americans aren’t
intelligent. For example, the author talks about how the way that he learned to read was by
flipping through a comic about the well known superhero, Superman. When Superman broke a
door down by kicking it over with his super strength, Alexie said that “Superman is breaking
down the door”. The author uses the door as an analogy for the various barriers and “doors”
that American Indians set up around their minds because teachers and people who don’t know
their full potential tell them that Native Americans can’t be smart. By using the door as an
analogy for the mental blocks that many Indian children have, Alexie shows that the children
felt that because others assumed and told them that they weren’t smart, they were unable to
be intelligent beings. This imagery is successful in proving that the children didn’t believe they
were able to achieve great things in school by showing that the doors do exist, but the strength
of everyday people isn’t enough to break down these doors and only superhumans are capable
of attacking the barriers. This helps convince the audience that they didn’t get equal
opportunities because it shows that the barriers created are difficult to break down and that
since other kids don’t have to deal with the “doors”, it’s an unfair obstacle which makes it
harder to learn and focus for the Native American students. Additionally, near the end of the
essay Alexie describes how by being a smart Indian, “I throw my weight against those doors”.
As previously mentioned, the doors were used as an analogy for the barriers put in place by
stereotypical Native Americans that prevented them from thinking that they could achieve
academic greatness. At the end of the story, Sherman describes that by realizing that anybody

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