The Toughest Indian in the World is in the Closet Essay

Sherman Alexie’s “The Toughest Indian in the World” tells a cryptic narrative about a Spokane Indian journalist on a pursuit to happen his individuality where he encounters his first homosexual experience with a hitch-hiking Lummi Indian male combatant. Through this narrative. Alexie is able to show the attitudes of gender in America’s society. Today. there is a sense of credence of open gender. where one is able browse the telecasting or Internet and discovers that all types of gender are all around us. From billboard ads. telecasting commercials to the MTV Music awards. there is no denying that it is amongst us.

Miley Cyrus performed a really titillating and sexual public presentation during the MTVVMA’s. Viewing audiences. including celeb-colleague. were non excessively pleased with the public presentation and expressed how “slutty and dirty” Cyrus was portraying. However. it was still displayed on national telecasting without being censored. Individually and as a whole. society is accepting of all signifiers of gender but there are restrictions. When transcending those restrictions. society tends to reply with negative attitudes and associate back to better traditional ways.

This arrested development causes persons to shut off or stamp down their ain looks and deny their sexual individuality. In “The Toughest Indian in the World” . the chief character and storyteller. a Spokane Indian journalist. mirrors the American society’s attitudes of gender that undertakings a changeless battle between being unfastened minded and closed off about our ain sexual individualities and look. The American norm still stands its land through the society. that being heterosexual is the normal. sexual individuality that people should develop. Harmonizing to Gregory M.

Herek. a psychological science professor at the University of California at Davis. “ In society heterosexual maleness is prized over homosexualism and feminity” ( 17 ) . when being sexually prejudice. Alexie recreates this norm by making a dominant heterosexual male character. In making so. the storyteller tells the narrative of his recent sexual dealingss ship with his colleague Cindy. which shows the orientation that he is interested in adult females who are “cute and smart. amusing as snake pit. a good catch” ( Alexie. 25 ) . the perfect adult female for most heterosexual work forces.

Lisa Tatonetti. who surveies and writes on Queer American and Indian literatures explains that this development in the narrative “illustrates how the narrator’s sexual individuality can be represented as unambiguously heterosexual instead than bisexual or cheery despite. or possibly because of. the facts that the majority of the narrative circles around what seems to the narrator’s foremost cheery sexual experience” ( 203 ) . This depicts the pro-heterosexual attitudes that the readers will foremost see the storyteller and finally parallels American society’s attitudes and positions. The American Society has restrictions on gender and can ensue into negative attitudes.

The storyteller has a bound as good. which causes him to stamp down his thoughts and emotions in a negative mode. Harmonizing to Herek. “Sexual bias. like other attitudes. is internal. inside a person’s caput. It can non be straight observed. It must be inferred by open behavior” ( 18 ) . The storyteller feels the demands to pick up Indian hitch-hikers. particularly males. which is non a normal base on balls clip avocation. This uneven behaviour creates a battle of what is deemed right or incorrect to the storyteller because there is a fright that society may non look upon this as acceptable. The storyteller invariably hides the truth with himself and others around him.

Keeping the journalist’s heterosexual individuality. the storyteller suppresses his emotions and feelings invariably by hedging the day of reckoning of being ask why he picks up male Indian hitch-hikers. The storyteller explains that when he picks them up. he ne’er asks why they are traveling to where they want to travel. “All that affairs is this: they are Indians walking. raising their pollexs. and I am at that place to pick them up” ( Alexie 24 ) . This implies that the storyteller won’t bother the hitch-hikers about why they are traveling to where of all time they need to travel. in trusting that they won’t inquire him why he picks up so many male hitch-hikers.

The storyteller evades the fright of being questioned. and cleverly makes it sound like he is a full-time Good Samaritan with the many random aliens he encounters. The battle of stamp downing his truth becomes a changeless fright that he must conceal from his friends every bit good. His colleagues at the newspaper know that he picks up hitch-hikers but nor do they understand why. “Maybe I could explicate to them why. but who wants to seek? Alternatively. if they ask I merely smiling and turn back to my computing machine. My coworkers smile back and laugh aloud.

They’re ever express joying aloud at me. at one another. at cockamamie misprint in the newspaper. at the thought of hitch-hikers” ( Alexie 24 ) . Amongst his colleagues. he fears of being ridiculed and laughed at. but more specifically about his fagot purposes. The storyteller can non show himself and accept himself because of the clear negative attitudes that he internalizes due to the hostile heterosexual colleagues. The narrator’s internal battle manifests to a physical concern after holding his sexual brush with the combatant. “Feeling stronger. I stepped into the shower and searched for my organic structure for alterations.

A in-between aged adult male needs to look for tumors” ( Alexie 33 ) . He still does non believe that. throughout his suppressed desires and destined sexual act. he is a homosexual. By doing certain. he searches his organic structure for Markss. a physical stigma that would place him with the homosexual group he fears to be identified with. The American society has developed a societal stigma against homosexualism. Social stigma means utmost disapproval of a individual or group on socially characteristic evidences that are perceived. and serve to separate them. from other members of a society who differ from their cultural norm.

The storyteller portions this belief despite holding sexual interactions with another male. Herek states that the “American society portion the cognition that homosexual desires and Acts of the Apostless are considered bad. immature. inferior and ill compared to heterosexuality” ( 14 ) . Stigma entirely means a grade of shame with a peculiar circumstance. quality. or individual. harmonizing to Webster’s lexicon. Without a physical grade and no 1 to state. including himself. that he has homosexual inclinations. what does he name it? What does the American Society call it? Sexual stigma is non ever associated in a negative manner.

A homosexual interaction. and this being the narrator’s first clip. is an act of experimentation. Herek agrees that. “Some homosexual Acts of the Apostless. such as engagement by groups of males in homoerotic fraternity hazing rites and ‘gang knocks. ’ may be defined by the participants as male bonding or as heterosexual. non homosexual” ( 15 ) . It is hard to put where the storyteller stands. whether this act is experimentation or desire. “For grounds I could non explicate so and can non explicate now. I kicked off my underwear and rolled over on my stomach” ( Alexie 32 ) .

Once the rubber is in topographic point the combatant asks. “Are you ready? ” to which the storyteller answers. “I’m non gay” ( Alexie 32 ) . By stamp downing his homosexualism. the storyteller can non explicate his actions and makes it clear. at the minute of incursion ; eventually he says he is non cheery. American society makes a bad environment for all persons. like the storyteller. to happen their individuality and possess great strength in act uponing others with coevalss of shared thoughts and ideas about gender inequality. race. and gender.

It becomes so hostile that persons internalize negative ideas that inhibit our feeling and actions and steep the individual that we are born to be. a agony for persons in any individuality crisis. We need to travel on from this ill will and subjugation. Like in Alexie’s work. we need to explicate that the ill will related to homophobia. sexual bias. and societal stigma. impacts all persons in a negative manner. so that we can act upon a new coevals to love and foster who we are born to be.

Work Cited Alexie. Sherman. The Toughest Indian in the universe. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press. 2000. Herek. Gregory M. “Beyond “homophobia” : Thinking about sexual bias and stigma in the 21st century. ” Sexuality Research & A ; Social Policy 1. 2 ( 2004 ) : 6-24. Tatonetti. Lisa. “Sex and salmon: fagot individualities in Sherman Alexie’s The Toughest Indian in the World. ” Volume 35 Number 2 ( Autumn 2007 ) ( 2007 ) : 4.

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