The Book Flight by Sherman Alexie

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The Book Flight by Sherman Alexie

Sherman Alexie is a superlative Native American novelist, poet, performer and filmmaker. The contemporary works especially on the Native American conservation life have earned him much praise and awards. Alexie, an acclaimed performer of his literature, held the world Heavy Weight Poetry Title for four years (Berglund and Jan, 2010). He usually performs his works of poetry at grand festivals, poetry slams among several other venues. The performances, often liked, have given his poetry like, emotion and energy. The renowned writer was born and bred in the Indian reservation in WellPoint, Washington. Alexie was a victim of hydrocephalus and was not expected to survive. He had to be operated on at just six months of age.

The Character Justice

The novel flight is a powerful short and timely tale of a distressed teenager who learns the true meaning of terror. The boy is not a ‘legal’ Indian, having not been claimed by his father (Alexie, 2013). Flight is the first novel Alexie has written in ten years. The teenager finds himself shot back through time when he is about to commit a destructive act. He sojourns through moments of violence in the American History as he assumes different bodies/ personalities. Zit first resurfaces as an FBI agent during the civil rights era. He then assumes the body of an Indian child during the Little Big Horn Battle. In the nineteenth century, he rides with an Indian tracker before he materializes into a pilot flying through the skies today. That is his last transformation as he finally comes to rest in his contemporary body. He comes back a blessed warrior transformed by all he has seen. This contemporary piece is a show of complete brilliance from Sherman Alexie. The writer manages to mix emotions of humor and misery in the American History. The novel is fearless, groundbreaking and irrepressible (McClinton, 2007).

The novel and its transformational flights have seven stages, all in which the boy’s soul assumes different appearances. In the introduction, the novel starts when Zits is in a juvenile detention center. He is serving a sentence for hitting his foster mother. He has already been engaged in much violence. Zits at this point experience dreams about committing murder or even hurting people.

What makes Justice an interesting character is his ability to manipulate Zits despite his young age. He is young but is capable of terror, and even plans a mass murder. At just the age of seventeen, he has been to prison that doesn’t reform him. Instead, he leaves hardened and witty. Justice’s other interesting quality is his level of intelligence that has been versed from a range of books. The level to which Zits is inclined to violence also creates a wonder. All he needs is a point in the direction of the violence, not even support or guidance. He manages to kill, in the absence of his mentor who promised to be there and even help. When Zits dies, he assumes the body of an FBI agent Hank.Through the meeting between Zits and Justice, the novelist aims to explain the cause and propagating factors to juvenile aggression and violence. It is at the juvenile detention center that Justice manages to wittingly recruit Zits into his two-man gang. In an environment that is unfriendly, he provides the harbor of love, care and understanding. He is a fatherly figure and becomes a mentor, but mentors the boy to be steeped into crime. Alexie manages to portray the level of incompetence at the juvenile detention centers. Instead of mentoring the juveniles, these centers expose them to more violence. The detainees preoccupy their minds with any information that comes by, and takes the mentoring of any figure that cares to care.The writer also examines juvenile violence in an exhilarating manner. Sherman affirms the assertion that a juvenile with a gun is like a grenade without a ring; they can explode anytime. The two teens, threaten people, and later kill people en mass, an activity that see to the demise of Zits. Alexie, through this part, therefore, explains the effects of juvenile violence on both the victims and the perpetrators. He explains that violence is not an activity to get away with. He also creates a pointer to the government’s lack of measures in controlling juvenile crimes, a situation that leaves guns at the hands of juveniles.Justice is portrayed as a well-read teenager, a factor that questions the kinds of books that teenagers should be exposed to. Violent books make children think of themselves as witty and capable of committing and getting away with a crime. It is through his knowledge that Justice manages to get the trust and confidence of Zits. Zit does not question him because, after all, he’s more intelligent in his perception.

The Theme of Justice

Justice is the adjustment of claims that are conflicting. The adjustment should be. In the end, Zits learns that violence is not the answer to all problems. He learns that even the people who have committed violence like murder have a shot at redemption and killing is not the way of meeting out justice to them. The FBI agent’s and the character Justice’s perceptions of justice are contradictory. It becomes unclear to him which justice is right, the justice of a good guy or justice of the bad guy. When he opens up to Mary, the wife of the policeman he meets, she hugs him and offers the one thing that he has always missed, people who care. It is a factor of losing everyone who cares in his life that has always driven him to commit a crime, seeking vengeance. Alexie explains that the justice meted out by Zits, and his ilk is partial and doesn’t meet the true definition of justice.

The Theme of Revenge

Revenge is an action of retaliation against a group or an individual in response to perceived or real grievances. It is payback. Sometimes Revenge is portrayed as forms of justice.In the novel Flight, there are cases of violence sometimes targeting the main characters or sometimes perpetrated by the main characters. When Zits dies in a shooting at the bank, it marks his beginning of transformations (Grassian, 2005). He experiences a series of different revenge killings always making him relive the moment when he killed at the bank through the transformations. Each time, he is overwhelmed by guilt and cannot comprehend making the decision repeatedly. The true moral of the story is articulated when Zits questions the killings and deciphers the circle of committing murders. He tells himself that killing to revenge a is not right and only complicates things.

Indian Stereotypes

There are several stereotypes portrayed in the novel. The stereotype of superiority of the white man to the Indian makes Zits believe he belongs just with the Indians and is incapable of achieving anything higher. His father does not also believe that a white doctor can turn up to help. The Indians are portrayed as savages who cannot help themselves. Hank and his partner try to justify their reasons for mistreating the Indians by finding any reason to blame them. Sherman Alexie, however, does nothing to show that these stereotypes are true. Instead, he reinforces the negative effects of the stereotypes (MacGowan, 2005).


In conclusion, the novel Flight takes the readers through the periods of violence in America. It clarifies that the justice realized through revenge is no justice and that everyone should aim at goodness. The novel serves the purposes of appealing to the literary intellect when yet passing moral statements. Its humor and seriousness achieves a high level of the contemporary masterpiece.

Works Cited

Alexie, Sherman. Flight: A Novel. , 2013. Print.

Berglund, Jeff, and Jan Roush. Sherman Alexie: A Collection of Critical Essays. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2010. Print.

Grassian, Daniel. Understanding Sherman Alexie. Columbia: University of South Carolina press, 2005. Print.

MacGowan, Christopher J. The Twentieth-Century American Fiction Handbook. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011. Print.

McClinton-Temple, Jennifer, and Alan R. Velie. Encyclopedia of American Indian Literature. New York: Facts on File, 2007. Print.

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