This is what it means to Say Phoenix, Arizona” by Sherman Alexie is a short tale about two Native American men captivated by their lives, struggling to find a place for themselves, in their land. Although it seems that Victor despises of Thomas Builds-the-Fire, a closer look at the characters and their unfolding, shows that Victor shares a certain bond with Thomas Builds-the-Fire. Victor seems to be the kind of person who doesn’t have a great relationship with his father.
It is clearly visible through the lines, “Victor hadn’t seen his father in a few years, only talked to him on the telephone once or twice, but there still was a genetic pain, which was soon to be pain as real and immediate as a broken bone. ” He is more concerned about the savings account his father left to him after his death, rather than being sad about his death. He is a person striving hard to make an impression on his fellows and doesn’t have any gratitude for Thomas Builds-the-Fire, who goes out of his way to help Victor.
Victor is a man of conflicts. He needs to travel to Phoenix, Arizona, to get his dead father’s body, but he doesn’t have the money. He knows that Thomas can help him with the money, but he strongly declines any help from him. He feels embarrassed to talk to Thomas as everybody considers him as silly. His conflicts are mostly with himself, trying to empty the frustration he holds within himself. When he beats up Thomas for no reason, it shows how he acts in the wake of frustration.
When Thomas speaks at ease with an American woman, he feels Thomas is being outrageous. “Victor was ready to jump out of the plane. Thomas, that crazy Indian storyteller with ratty old braids and broken teeth, was flirting with a beautiful Olympic gymnast. ” He seems to be more concerned about what people think of him rather than what he thinks of himself. He conflicts with himself as they return back to their land.
He wants to say thanks to Thomas but doesn’t find the courage to do so. “Victor knew that he couldn’t really be friends with Thomas, even after all that had happened. It was cruel but it was real. ” Victor knows that Thomas helped him when everybody had turned their back towards him, but he still doesn’t find the courage to accept his friend the way he is. But towards the end, he agrees to satisfy his old friend, Thomas Builds-the-Fire, by listening to one of his story.