The Lone Ranger And Tonto Fist Fight In Heaven by Sherman Alexie, 1993
The magic trick:
Filling each year of the school-memoir-in-miniature with anger and conflict
Yesterday’s featured SSMT story, “Indian Education,” established a childhood rife with conflict that left our protagonist, Victor, full of anger and angst by the age of 18. “The Lone Ranger And Tonto” (the titular and, for my money, the best story in the collection) follows “Indian Education” in the book and continues the anger, extending it from childhood into real, adult crisis.
Victor is at constant odds between his vast potential and his disappointing reality, with that battle here taking a very clear-cut form along racial lines: Indian vs. white. He grew up on a Spokane Indian reservation, but he has aspirations to live and thrive in the larger world – the “larger world” often being synonymous with “white world.” He fights with his white girlfriend. He toys with the racist stereotypes applied to him by a white convenience store cashier. He has violent nightmares about the racial divide.
The most fascinating conflict within The Lone Ranger and Tonto story collection is Victor’s separation between his past and possible future, and this story sums it up very nicely. And that’s quite a trick on Alexie’s part.
In Seattle, I broke lamps. She and I would argue and I’d break a lamp, just pick it up and throw it down. At first she’d buy replacement lamps, expensive and beautiful. But after a while she’d buy lamps from Goodwill on garage sales. Then she just up the idea entirely and we’d argue in the dark.
“You’re just like your brother,” she’d yell. “Drunk all the time and stupid.”
“My brother didn’t drink that much.”
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