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Jacob Crossno

Dr. Suhr-Sytsma
Eng-181
17 March 2016
Project 2
Sherman Alexie often writes with a comedic style. I will show how Philip Heldrich
claims that this comedic style is used to address problems with dark humor. I will analyze the
way that Heldrich supports and counters the ideas. I will show examples of when Alexie did and
did not use dark humor for this purpose in his novels Flight and True Diary.
Philip Heldrich asserts that Alexie uses dark humor and irony in the form of literary
techniques and figurative language to discuss dark issues particularly social issues and
stereotypes which are a result of colonialization. Heldrich reveals Alexies use of dark humor in
his works. Heldrich argues that Alexie effectively makes the dominant culture question its errors
and stereotypes of Indians. Heldrich also claims that humor and dark humor are Indians secret
weapon to survival.
Heldrich supports the idea that Alexie uses humor as a secret weapon to survival by
highlighting and discussing a scene where a character witnesses a young native basketball player
winning a shot and responds by laughing. Heldrich also supports the idea that Alexies humor is
used in response to issues resulting from colonialization by quoting Alexies question How can
we imagine a new language when the language of the enemy keeps our dismembered tongues
tied to his belt?
I believe it is very evident that Alexie uses dark humor for the similar purposes in his
other novels such as True Diary and Flight. For example, in Flight, the main character, Junior,

responds to learning of his sisters death by laughing and laughing because laughter is the secret
weapon to survival of tragedy in Alexies novels. It is a greater metaphor for humor being the
key to survival of issues presented by colonialization. Furthermore, the main character, Zits, in
Flight makes the reader question stereotypes of Indians with dark humor. However, Alexie does
not always use dark humor to survive tragedy. For example, in Flight, when Jimmys plane
crashes, the novel takes on a more philosophical and serious tone as his character was faced with
tragedy.
In conclusion, Alexie does indeed use dark humor to address social issues and survive the
effects of oppression by the dominant culture; however, dark humor is not always used for this
purpose.

Reflect 11: Reviewer Memo and Questions


1. I was curious to know whether the ideas I have already expressed are clear and well
understood. I believe I should elaborate more in the project, but I wonder should I work
more towards searching for more ideas to include or elaborate more on the ideas I have
already presented to strengthen the arguments and project.
2. Do you think my interpretations of Alexies use of dark humor in the novels we have read
in class are agreeable? I do not want to be making unusual claims that the reader cannot
see my point.
3. Does the transition flow well from each idea to the next? Are the ideas appropriately
organized?

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