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Sherman Alexie a father of two sons is the author of the novel Flight. Born of a Coeur d’Alene Indian father and a Spokane Indian mother, Sherman is a writer of several other novels in addition to Flight. He had to go undergo a brain operation at the age of six months because he had water in his brain. The surgery was so desperate that there were minimal expectations of his survival. He survived the operation and went on to be what no one was expecting of him. He grew up in Wellprint in Washington. He went to school in reservation schools and for high school; he seeks better education in Reardan. Sherman performs well finishes at the top of his class, and in extracurricular activities play basketball.
Sherman’s novel flight is the most recent of his works, and it is about children who experience a sense of displacement when they end up on the playing apparatus of a foster care. The main character in this book being Zits, a fifteen-year-old offender whose father is Indian and Spanish mother. He runs away from his 21st foster home in Seattle. First appearance of Zits in the book is in the bathroom of his latest collection of foster parents as he counts pimples on his face. Here, the author shows us the awful life of this 15 year old who says he is dying of ninety-nine types of shame: of being 15 years and long, ugly, skinny, having acne etc. Zits became an orphan at the age of six after his Irish mother passed on because of cancer and his Indian father had abandoned him at birth. He moves from foster home to another and from school to school and runs away from a foster home at the age of 8 years.
Zits keep on going in and out of juvenile jail in the Central District of Seattle and its here where he meets a white boy, Justice. Justice wants to coach Zits on how to take care of his miserable life. With Justice, Zits’ soul transverses and transforms in unexpected ways as we see Zits in Justice’s patch to rob a bank. The plot does not work out, and Zits loses his memory. He wakes up to plays several different roles, for example, he plays the role of an FBI agent who meets up with two Indian radicals where he notices that some of his heroes are traitors to their cause. Later on, he acts as a voiceless Indian youth at the edge of a bloody battle. He resurfaces as an old, excellent Indian tracker employed by the Army.
Further, on, in the novel, we see Zits playing the role of his father, a homeless alcoholic who searches through dustbins for food leftovers. Every new renewal ends at the moment when he must make a critical decision. All these reincarnations carry out the subject in Sherman’s novel flight, which is continuing the struggle for survival, the absence of fathers and the wrath of racial divides. We now look at the themes in the novel Flight.
A theme in a novel can be in its name. In a name, we can see the gist of the story, which can be the subject of the novel. As for Flight, it is a name from the term flying which is a recurring idea in the book. The idea of flying first shows when Zits thinks about racing remote airplanes with Edgar, his former foster father. In the incidence, Zits offends Edgar, and he ends up crashing their planes because he lost in the event, and Zits said it was his fault. The theme of flight occurs in part 2 when Zits runs for the hills after cursing his current foster father. He says after cursing his father he puts on his cloak and flies right through the roof. From this, we see that flying is Zits way of dealing with the stressing things in his life- it is a coping tactic.
Flight is also present when Zits takes up Jimmy’s body. Flight serves as an apt metaphor as Zits moves through time, space, identities and address fast. Young people have a hard time adapting to change, and this is in Zits life from the age of fifteen. Zits are someone who is flying from one area of life to the next.
There are several themes in the novel Flight by Sherman. The themes include war/power/vengeance, redemption, family, and trust/belonging. These themes best explanation is in the lives of the characters in the novel, and we will analyze them one by one. The need for concern as a theme in the book the characters better brings it out starting with Zets. Zets is in need of a stable family all through his lifetime. The author starts by telling us that Zets is an orphan staying in a foster home and that he has been in and out of several foster homes because of his rebellious nature. All of Zets adverse experiences happen because of his need for care, love and a strong family. This comes from the feeling that no one truly looks out for him including his foster families. In the unfolding story, he always thinks about the mother, whom he says is the only person who ever loved him. Meeting his friend Justice gives him hope that someone has an interest in his life. Each body transformation teaches Zits something new about himself and the description of love. Throughout the novel, Zits talks of the hardships he encounters in the foster care system and his method of adoption. Later on in article, Zits realizes that his current foster family cares about him, and he breaks down.
This lack of reliable family and love make Zits feel some sense of insecurity and abandoned. He lacks an identity, and this considerably affects his mental health. Zits use a wild road in search of his identity and this can result in self-destruction. It is noteworthy in the life of young ones to have a high level of mental health. At the point where Zits portrays the body of his father, he finally gains his character as he ends up saying: I am my father! At first, he is confident that he is Irish and Native American, but he does not remember any experiences that are in a position to either of the two. This uncertainty about his personality comes from lack of parenting in his life: his mother died when he was six while his father left him when he is born. In addition, the idea that he is a foster child confuses him even more.
Also in the book is the subject of violence. Several violent acts take place in Zits life as an adolescent one of them being the drunken behaviour of his father. Lack of parenting shapes Zits in to a hoodlum for the better part of the novel. He is in and out of the police’s power to the extent that they now talk to him in a courteous and friendly manner. Then there is violence that comes from the lack of love and affection. When a child is growing up, love and care are necessary so as the child can respect others and instil moral fibbers in a child. Being a dutiful kid that he is, Zits turns his life around for the better in the close of the novel.
Another notable theme in the novel is the history of Native Americans. It is essential to Zits historical and cultural context and sense of identity that gives a line in his story. Very few American students and learners know about that aspect of American history. The underlying theme of Native American describes the underlying torment and violent nature of the protagonist. Zits whole life in the story is synonymous with grief and pain. Zits having an Indian father is born with pain and suffering in his DNA! According to the author, there is inheritance of Native American pain that is it passes from one generation to the following in what he refers to as blood memory. This is a main theme in this book as it widens the reader’s understanding of the article and creator. It also clarifies the origin of Zits’s suffering and pain. The first occasion where a reader sees Zits blood memory issue is when he is avoiding police officers who are arresting him. He says he is fighting because that is his wiring and programming.
The author reveals that Zits has to fight because violence and pain are in his nature, which he cannot change. A consequence of Zits’s blood memory is the woeful dreams he has about killing people. Another example of family memory in Zits’s life happens when he takes the form of the FBI agent and the other one when he finds himself aboard a plane. He says that the only moment he has been on an aircraft is when his mother was expecting him and that he does not know how but he has the impression in his DNA. According to Sherman, there is a link to Native American heritage memory in the American history. He says that Native Americans come out genocide with a history full of misery, broken treaties, war, and widespread destruction by small pox, and Indian-hating sentiments. In addition, most of their cultures and languages fade as they are living on reservations and assimilations.
Lastly, there is the theme of healing through belief and understanding. It comes a time in the story when Zits witnesses his own past and then a light goes off in his head. He sees why he has been having violent dreams and why he thought it is his programming. It is because his ancestors had the pain and suffering and that it never ends. His knowledge of the sequence of tribulation enlightens him and makes him accept his kind. In the end, we see is willing to change how he deals with his anger and pain. Rather than directing his anger to destruction and violence, Zits starts to make use of imagination. He learns to see occurrences in the past from a different perspective, and it turns to be more empathetic and wiser. By the end of the story, we see a change in Zits, he regrets his earlier actions and understands that is difficult to distinguish the villains from the heroes. Understanding his past makes Zits to overcome the pain he has been going through because of family memory and he gets a second time to experience.
With an Indian origin, Sherman relates strongly to this story in every way. The themes he presents of loneliness, identity and feelings of isolation are things that Native Americans face as youths. Growing up with his siblings in Washington, he was the desolate guy, and as we can see that is what Zits is in the story. A young kid with no happiness at all and all he knows are pain and suffering. Sherman has alcoholic problems so does the main character in his book. At the age, of fifteen Zits is an alcoholic who keeps on bouncing from one foster home to the other. Sherman also lost nine members of his extended family to alcohol related deaths (Sherman, 2008).
In the novel, Flight, the author makes use of various historical references. They are different in terms of location, time, and characters used to describe the story. For example, there is an individual an FBI agent in the 1970s. It portrays violence in these regions, which is right in reference to what happened historically. Another historical reference is the transportation of Zits back to the times of Battle of Little Big Horn. It is an ancient conflict that involved Indians against the US and the causalities were majorly Native Americans. The September 11 terrorism attack is also in use as a historical reference in the novel flight. This comes at the time when Zits becomes a pilot and the memory of his Muslim friend run through his mind. There is also reference in racial matters in novel flight.
The themes in the book are applicable to the young especially when it comes to matters of identity and in understanding one’s culture. Zets’s problems arise because he lacks personality and he does not understand the origin of suffering. This makes him develop undesirable characters as he struggles to find himself and understand the reason for his suffering. The author completes his report by letting the reader know the cause of Zits’s pain as he in the end understands why he was suffering. The understanding of the main themes is through the actions, characters, and thoughts of the characters in the novel.