Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven is a collection of short stories that paints consistent and multifaceted pictures into Native American life with moving prose. In the introduction to the book, he claims that it is a “thinly disguised memoir”, letting the reader know that these stories are close to reality. By taking perspectives from all different walks of reservation life, it makes the short stories seem more representative of a majority of Native Americans.
The most apparent motifs are alcohol and dancing. All of these tie in to reservation life and Native American identity. However, those things are not so simple that they could be described and understood using simple stereotypes.
But the essence of the story doesn’t lie in alcohol. For Alexie, it was the characters, their struggles or dreams. Those are the things that resonate with our lives too. Powerful, because of Alexie’s “lyrical” prose. Powerful, because it was pertinent to your life too.
What are dreams? The most dominant dream is the characters’ Native American identity. It could be seen in the actions of the teenagers, imagining that they warriors in rebellious actions, or their faith in the basketball. It could be seen by how every sticks to tradition, and also in their stereotypical appearances. But it could also be seen in alcoholism, as an escape from their loss of native american identity, evidenced through nightmares and visions.
Dreams create struggles and struggles create dreams, as seen from the message of “trying to survive” that most characters have. I sometimes ask myself, what’s the difference between us and them? Deep racial discrimination. And perhaps… different dreams. But still life nonetheless.