The Benefits of Repetition in Sherman Alexie's Superman and Me

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 628 |

Page: 1|

4 min read

Published: Dec 11, 2018

Words: 628|Page: 1|4 min read

Published: Dec 11, 2018

Inside the Brains of the Defeated

Many Indian children are forced to believe at a very young age that because they are Indian, they cannot accomplish much. Sherman Alexie wrote about this in his essay “Superman and Me”. He elaborate upon why and how he learned to read under the constraints of being a “little Indian boy” who is “simply an oddity”. Towards the end of the essay he discusses visiting schools to teach creative writing to Indian kids. He offers advice to the “sullen and already defeated Indian kids” in one simple word “Books,” which he says multiple times. This is possibly the best advice he could give these kids because repetition is the best way to reach these students and he communicated directly and clearly.

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Although repetition can be annoying and seem redundant at times, “repetition is the mother of learning “ (White Mountain Apache Indian Archives). Alexie repeats the word “books” hoping that if “books” is repeated enough, the word “books” will be an echo in the kids’ minds. Alexie realizes that at this moment, they are afraid of that word. They were always taught “I’m Indian, I’m not good enough” from classic racial stereotypes, so they believe that books are not to be touched. By hearing another Indian repeat the word “books” the kids are learning that books are theirs to use. Books have always been there, and Alexie is forcing them to open their minds to this possibility. He knows that if they continue to hear “books” they will think about books during their next class, before they drift into sleep, when their alarm clock goes off the next morning, every hour of the day will be filled with these thoughts. It probably won’t be voluntary on their behalf, but this short repetition will remain in their thoughts just like that catchy song from the Top 40 that was on the radio last week. Alexie is not beating his head against a wall, he is carving a future onto these students’ doors.

Direct communication is they only way anyone could be confident that their message was received. Alexie speaks directly towards the struggling students to convey his idea clearly and simply. “Books,” he says, “books,” giving them a solution to save their lives. Some may say that saying just the word books isn’t enough to change the minds of sullen, defeated children, but it is nearly impossible to get kids to listen if they don’t want to. They simply cannot miss the same word being repeated. If any further explanation was placed in the advice he offered to these students, they might not hear what he has to say at all. Alexie speaks directly to the students, knowing that he is saying something that is vital to their education. Any indirect communication would be thrown away, and it would never even brush these students’ ears. He is not simply telling a class that reading is great, he is throwing his “weight against their locked doors,” fighting for not just the students, but also himself and the entire Indian population.

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Alexie believes literacy is the key to battling racial stereotypes. He has been knocking down barriers between Indian kids and education his whole life. He was once an Indian boy amazed at the amount racism he saw. He knows what it’s like to stand proud in a world of well trained submissive Indians oppressed by those they feared. He has one solution to fight with. Books. This solution is not just shared with anyone who will listen. It is pressed onto the already defeated, The kids that feel there is nothing they can do. He pushes into their minds, and he forces open possibilities with one single word. Spoken clearly, directly, and repeated. Books.

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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The Benefits of Repetition in Sherman Alexie’s Superman and Me. (2018, October 26). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 24, 2024, from
“The Benefits of Repetition in Sherman Alexie’s Superman and Me.” GradesFixer, 26 Oct. 2018,
The Benefits of Repetition in Sherman Alexie’s Superman and Me. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 24 Jun. 2024].
The Benefits of Repetition in Sherman Alexie’s Superman and Me [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2018 Oct 26 [cited 2024 Jun 24]. Available from:
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