Sherman Alexie, in his essay “The Joy of Reading and Writing: Superman and Me,” Sherman argues that reading and writing are essential survival skills for Native Americans. He makes this argument by recounting his own experiences growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation.
Sherman’s father, who could not read or write, encouraged Sherman to develop these skills. Sherman did so by devouring comic books, which he says helped him learn to read. He also began writing stories of his own, which he would share with his father. In conclusion, Sherman asserts that reading and writing have saved his life and that they can do the same for other Native Americans.
“The Joy of Reading and Writing: Superman and Me,” by Sherman Alexie, offered me a different perspective on reading and writing. Sherman Alexie grew up on the Spokane Reservation in Wellpinit, Washington, and details his life as an Indian boy as well as how reading and writing assisted him in achieving success.
In his essay, Sherman Alexie uses ethos to establish his credibility as a writer. Furthermore, Sherman Alexie employs the use of pathos by sharing his personal story of how he learned to read and write. In addition, Sherman Alexie uses logos by giving logical reasoning on why reading and writing are important.
Sherman Alexie begins his essay by using ethos to explain how he became a writer. Sherman states, “My first published stories were in the school newspaper” (Alexie 1). By Sherman disclosing this information to the reader, it develops Sherman’s credibility as a writer because he is getting published at such a young age. Moreover, Sherman continues to use ethos when he states that “my first literary hero was Superman” (Alexie 1).
Sherman saying this lets the reader know that he was interested in reading and writing at a young age, which further develops Sherman’s credibility as a writer. Furthermore, Sherman Alexie uses pathos when he talks about his father. Sherman states, “My father could barely read” (Alexie 2). By Sherman sharing this information with the reader, it makes the reader feel sympathetic towards Sherman because Sherman’s father was not able to do something that Sherman found so important and interesting.
In addition, Sherman continues to use pathos later on in his essay when he talks about his mother. Sherman writes, “She worked as many jobs as she could find on and off the reservation” (Alexie 2). Sherman including this information allows the reader to feel sympathetic towards Sherman and his mother because Sherman’s mother had to work multiple jobs just to support Sherman and his family.
Lastly, Sherman Alexie uses logos when he talks about why reading and writing are important. Sherman states that “Reading and writing allowed me to escape the poverty, racism, and violence of my youth” (Alexie 3). By Sherman saying this, it provides logical reasoning on why reading and writing are important because it allowed Sherman to escape his reality which consisted of poverty, racism, and violence.
The theme of Alexie’s book is to trace his path from learning how to read and write as an Indian youngster, through becoming an adult author teaching creative writing to youngsters in India. Alexie discovered not only how to read but also how to love reading. He utilized his enthusiasm for reading to propel himself through the educational system, breaking away from the negative stereotypes associated with being slow, quiet, poor, and unsuccessful in life.
Sherman Alexie overcame the obstacles of being a Indian growing up on a reservation. Sherman Alexie’s essay “The Joy of Reading and Writing: Superman and Me” is split into three parts. The first part is Sherman’s story of how he learned to read, write, and love Superman. The second part is Sherman teaching creative writing to Indian children. Sherman uses his experience with reading and writing to help the children understand that they can do anything if they set their minds to it. The third and final part is Sherman’s realization that he is not only teaching the children how to read and write but also how to dream.
Sherman Alexie was born in October 1966, Sherman grew up on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Washington state. Sherman’s father worked as a tribal court judge, and his mother was a stay-at-home mom. Sherman has an older sister and brother. When Sherman was five years old, his family got their first television.
Sherman’s family didn’t have a lot of money, so they would watch TV shows and then Sherman would act them out for his family. Sherman loved to read and write from a young age. When Sherman was in the third grade, he won a spelling bee competition. Sherman realized that he was good at reading and writing and decided to use these skills to his advantage.
Sherman went to an all-white high school off the reservation. Sherman was one of the only Indian students at the school. Sherman did well in school and was even elected class president. Sherman’s success in school led him to believe that he could do anything he set his mind to.
Sherman attended Gonzaga University on a scholarship. Sherman majored in American Indian studies and English. Sherman wanted to become a writer, so he took creative writing classes. Sherman’s first published story was about a young Indian boy who dreamed of becoming a superhero.
At the outset of his essay, Alexie strikes a self-assured note. Alexie began learning how to read at the age of three, after acquiring Superman comics on the Indian Reservation. Alexie taught himself to read comic books by looking at the images and dialogues, acting out what he thought the tale might be implying, and pretending to say it aloud.
Alexie’s success in reading quickly spread throughout his community and Sherman became known as the “smart Indian”. Alexie’s ability to read gave him a great sense of self-confidence that Superman also had. “I am not afraid of white people, because I am smarter than they are. I can read their words and, more importantly, I can read their minds and intentions” (15). This allowed Sherman to view whites differently than most Indians on the reservation.
Sherman states that while other kids were trying to become like white people, he was trying to become Superman. Alexie writes that Superman is the perfect example of an immigrant story. He isn’t completely white or black, but he is an outsider who is misunderstood. Sherman felt like an outsider on the reservation and he could relate to Superman.
Sherman’s confidence led him to become a successful writer. Alexie writes that he would not have become a writer if it wasn’t for Superman. “I became a writer so that I could tell stories that would continue to break down doors, continue to shatter expectations and assumptions” (16).
Sherman wanted to write stories that were different from the typical Indian story. He wanted to write about Indians in a new light and show the world that they were more than just alcoholics and lazy. Sherman’s goal was to change the way people saw Indians and he succeeded in doing so through his writing.
Sherman Alexie’s essay, “The Joy of Reading and Writing: Superman and Me” is a moving and inspiring tale of how Sherman used Superman to help him learn to read and write. Sherman’s story shows how books can be a source of inspiration and confidence. Sherman’s success as a writer proves that anyone can achieve their dreams if they have the courage to pursue them.