The Joy of Reading and Writing: Superman and Me
Reading Leads to Prosperity Sherman Alexie recalls his childhood memory of learning to read, and his teaching experience in “The Joy of Reading and Writing: Superman and Me”. He devotes his interest to reading. By this way, he breaks the stereotype that Indian boys are expected to be stupid and dumb, and later on he becomes a successful writer because of his endeavor to read. Alexie vividly narrates his younger life by using metaphor and repetition with a confident tone, in order to strengthen his description of his reading talent, his influence to the other Indian boys and how he struggles in poverty to change his life.
Alexie uses metaphor to illustrate his experience of reading and writing. As an Indian, he reads a large number of English books to expand his knowledge. He recollects how he becomes enthusiastic about reading when he attempts to the learn new vocabulary “paragraph”, then he begins to brainstorm and states that, “I realized that a paragraph was a fence that held words……Our reservation was a small paragraph within the United States“(16). Alexie describes that a paragraph is like a fence or a barrier to restrain or hold the surrounding things.
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In this case, it shows his wide and deep thinking during reading while other Indian boys struggle with basic reading. He is involved in the process of reading and it reveals his confident to make a different. On the other hand, Alexie’s metaphor indicates that he tries to break through the fence of education. He refuses to fail, and his attitude toward reading explains his aspiration to success. 2 Alexie frequently uses metaphor in his essay. He demonstrates an image in details about how he learns to read by associating the words on the Superman panel with his assumption.
He quotes that,” Because [the Superman] is breaking down the door, I assume he says,’ I am breaking down the door. ’ Once again, I pretend to read the words and say aloud…In this way, I learned to read” (17). Alexie precisely provides his reading process to the audience. On the other hand, it also proves that he breaks the block of lacking knowledge. In fact, “the Superman” refers to himself. Alexie asserts his point that he transforms his destiny from poverty to success by reading, and he retells his experience to other Indian boys to save their lives instead of enduring in a tough situation.
Accordingly, he regards himself as hero, for he saves both those Indian boys’ lives and his own life. Moreover, when Alexie repeats the sentence of “breaking down the door”, it relates to he attempts to break through the obstacle of education. He does not obtain a decent education background; however, he can change this circumstance by reading. While Alexie states his voice by using metaphor, he emphasizes the meaning of reading repeatedly in his essay. He stresses how he strives to read variety of books, and he records that,” I read the books my father brought home from the pawnshops and secondhand.
I read the books I borrowed from the library. I read the backs of cereal boxes… I read magazines. I read anything that had words and paragraphs” (18). Alexie lists out all the material he has read with the same sentence structure, yet he does not conclude all these things in one sentence. He exemplifies his passion to reading, for he tries to save his life. Due to his parallel repetition, Alexie impresses the audience by these normal but diligent experiences. He tells to the audience 3 that he is not as normal as those Indian boys who are willingly to be ordinary people; in the contrast, he saves his life by reading a large quantity of books.
Because of Alexie’s unique and outstanding accomplishment in reading and writing, his repetition in the essay reveals to be a confident tone. He argues that,” I refused to fail. I was smart. I was arrogant. I was lucky” (17). In addition, he assert his point again later in the essay,” I am smart. I am arrogant. I am Iucky. I am trying to save our lives” (18). His confident tone shows his positive attitude to learning, and how he desires to make a difference among those Indian boys and non-Indian boys. Alexie also uses past and present tense in these two sentences.
He indicates that he used to be smart because he saves his own life, but in his teaching life he saves those Indian boys’ lives who have the same economic and cultural background like his childhood. It is obvious that Alexie fulfill his life by reading, and he exerts a great effect to other Indian boys. His effort to read and write inspires the audience that people can dominate and decide their own destiny no matter what others’ judgments are. Alexie confidently represents his experience to the audience with the impact of reading by using metaphor and repetition. (836 words)