Superman and Me
In the article “Superman and Me”, Sherman Alexie gives a biography of his life as a poor Indian boy who successfully self-educated himself through literature. Through the medium of past experiences as a minority with a strong hunger for learning, Alexie reminds everyone of the potential for an individual to overcome adversity through perseverance and diligence.
With an informal tone pervading throughout his article, Alexie aims considerably at non-Indian children, hoping to give initiative on the power and importance of education for minority students like him. Despite being characterized as a minority in the past, he was able to break away of stereotypes on society as a result of his race. Ultimately his ability to erase conventional beliefs on the ethics of Indian children allows Sherman Alexie to successfully portray such a notion.
By using alliteration, Alexie prosperously emphasizes his ability to overcome hardship and stereotypical barriers by mentioning his self triumph and then linking it back to his teaching career in the future. Alexie proclaimed that “[He] was smart. [He] was arrogant.
[He] was lucky,” ultimately proclaiming that despite being pitied by non-Indians for being different from other students, he refused to give up on his passion for learning, and found reading as a habitual hobby of his.
Note that he specifies his characteristics in a particular order putting “smart” as his first, because he first begins his narrative telling the audience that he was a child prodigy who was able to self-teach himself literature and reading comprehension through actions and visuals.
He then goes on to being “arrogant” since he chose to be aloof from other students by being a “smart Indian,” after realizing his prodigy-like mentality. In the beginning he also mentions these statements in the past tense, then ending his article by saying the same statements in the present tense, exemplifying two different purposes to his statements.
In his first statements, he uses the three sentences to proclaim his ability to break away from stereotypes a child of Indian heritage. In the last paragraph, however, Sherman uses these statements differently, professing his future initiative in teaching and believing he is smart, arrogant, and lucky for sharing his knowledge to the younger individuals. By doing so, Alexie is able to successfully portray his two successful triumphs by using the same statement in a different meaning.
The purpose of Superman was not solely as a stepping stone to Sherman’s prosperous reading in writing, in that the figure of Superman also implies to the author as that of a superhero figure. In the beginning, Sherman notes that “Superman is breaking down the door,” and in the end, he mentions himself “throw[ing] [his] weight against their locked door. The door holds.”
Notice that the author specifically used the action of “breaking” and throwing his weight onto the door rather than opening or leaning on the door, since Sherman is attempting to exemplify the ability of Superman to break down Sherman’s door of illiteracy. In the end, Sherman notes that he leans his weight against a locked door at a school setting, ultimately linking his action back to that of Superman.
Therefore, he was actually describing himself as the superhero who was able to fight off the villain of adversity and break away from the stereotypes that a villain (illiteracy, in this case) was overpowering. Ultimately, his description of Superman breaking down the door and he leaning against a door, exemplifies that Superman is also Sherman.