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The central question of Sherman Alexie’s “Superman and Me” is ‘how did the gift of literacy impact Sherman Alexie’s life?’. Alexie expected more of himself than his culture did. Literacy gave him a sense of individuality by separating him from the stereotypes of Indians and he was able to “save his life” through it.
Literacy created a divide between him and his peers. Through his abilities, he was able to avoid being categorized by the traditional Indian stereotypes placed on him by outside cultures as well as his own culture. He willed himself to be the exception. Indian children were not expected, let alone encouraged, to read and write. Indians were only accepted if they conformed to the social norm of unintelligence. He stood out from the crowd with his drive for change and unwillingness to conform to society’s expectations of what he could accomplish.
Sherman Alexie was able to “save his life” through the power of reading and writing. From the moment Alexie was born, he was expected to fail because of the circumstances he was born into- Indian, lower class, and living on a reservation. He knew that reading was the key to overcoming his adversaries and creating a difference, not only in his life but in the lives of other Indian children. While Alexie enjoyed reading, he also read out of desperation to achieve. Through Sherman Alexie’s consistent reading, he was able to save his life. He never gave in to the stereotypes his community placed upon him. He was able to become a writer, a career that is not usually pursued by Indians. Through all of his hard work, he was able to not only save his own life from becoming insignificant, but work towards saving other young Indians’ lives as well through the gift of literacy during his visits to Indian schools.
Throughout the story, “Superman and Me”, the central question is answered to full extent. The author treats the central question with pride. He was proud of what he was able to accomplish through his drive at such a young age and knows that he was lucky to be born into a home were reading was normalized instead of looked down upon. He acknowledges the he is lucky for this. This gave him the willpower to keep going even when everyone from his culture as well as from other cultures were telling him to stick to the status quo.
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