War Dances.

The focus of this paper is to critically evaluate the central themes in «War Dances» by Sherman Alexie and highlight the central proposition of this paper that Alexie’s book utilizes the interrelationship between concepts of identity and complex relationship conflict as a microcosm for human nature. This is further reinforced by the juxtaposition between familial relationship interactions and interactions with strangers as represented by Alexie.&nbsp. Furthermore, it is submitted at the outset that the racial background of the characters and the socio-political backdrop of the stories and poems is imperative to the understanding of the tense relationships between central protagonists throughout the collection.

Through the contrasting use of poems and prose, War Dances underlines ethical and moral issues in the conflict in everyday life, beginning with strangers and then gradually delving into deeper relationships with family and friends. For example, in “The Limited”, the central protagonist has an altercation with someone who attempts to attack a stray dog, who then abandons the scene with no remorse. The observation that “I don’t know what happened to the man or the dog…. But I drove home and wrote this poem” highlights the juxtaposition of our simultaneous connection and isolation from people. The encounter with the stranger highlights human instincts and needs to interact and demonstrates the impact of interaction with others on human nature.

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To this end, War Dances continues to develop this through the uncomfortable issue of race and identity in “Breaking and Entering”, which describes a confrontation with a burglar in the home. The use of continuous questions through the first narrative and the palpable angst of the narrator in dealing with his attitude to exploitation and race serves to involve the reader directly into the narrative. This, in turn, makes forces the reader to ask the same questions as the narrator and address the same awkward questions regarding race and identity. Furthermore, in bringing these taboo issues into the open, Breaking and Entering highlights the intrinsic complexity of how our perceptions impact interaction with others and how race and assumptions about identity influence social perception.

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