The setting of Sherman Alexie’s story, the Lone Ranger, and Tonto Fist Fight in Heaven, is crucial for the reader to understand the aspect of change experienced in contemporary society. As the narrator runs away from the memories of an unsuccessful relationship, his experience shows how modern society embraces hatred instead of love and isolation instead of unity and harmony. During his time in Seattle, most of the narrator’s decisions are made based on ambivalence and restlessness, and his life is filled with pain and bitterness, and he longs to escape from it. The constant fights with his ex-wife are the reason for anger and loneliness in the narrator’s life, and he remembers his childhood with nostalgia. As people grow up, they acquire more experience and knowledge but, unfortunately, lose the sense of wonder and innocence. In other words, Alexie illustrates the idea of growing up and moving into a township as a perpetual sense of loss. The narrator’s fate demonstrates modern society’s disintegration due to isolation, discrimination, and the challenge of failed relationships.
The discrimination, isolation, and constant pain in the narrator’s life manifest the challenges of modern living. People in contemporary society have segregated themselves in terms of classes and discriminated against members of a different classes. As the narrator drives to calm his mind, he finds himself in neighborhoods where he is not expected to be. The narrator often finds himself in places where he is supposed to be. Police officers judged him by the color of his skin and set boundaries as to which neighborhoods he would visit. Unlike primitive societies, which co-existed together, modern society lacks trust, unity, and harmony and treats each other as a suspect. As the narrator drove toward neighborhoods belonging to the rich, he was not allowed. In the face of the rich in society, the poor are always perceived to be untrustworthy and have to be questioned whenever they are spotted. Whenever police officers stop a poor person, they challenge him to prove he is not an armed robber. As a result of the narrator’s experience, most people tend to remain in their neighborhoods without visiting other places they are not welcome. The discrimination displayed in the novel underscores the theme of alienation, and people who are discriminated against tend to suffer an inferiority complex, which may end up affecting their self-esteem.
The aspect of time and realism is further experienced by the narrator when the creamsicle melts on his hand, and he remembers his childhood with reminiscence. After the incident, the narrator longs to act as a child since he misses childhood memories. “I could act just as young as I wanted to act” (Sherman 8). The narrator expresses his desire to live a peaceful life as he used to when he was a child. From infantile, tremendous changes occur in people’s lives, primarily in how they treat and interact. He remembers that when he was a kid, he would spend most of his time with his friends, playing basketball and solving life challenges. Children spend most of their days watching television, which limits people from being critical and creative thinkers despite being a powerful tool to entertain. Technology should therefore be moderated to benefit children rather than ruining their thinking abilities. The lone ranger envies kids for their imagination, believing his wife learned something new from them daily.
Change is inevitable in human life, and people must always be ready to change their ways for a particular cause. The lone ranger in his wild dreams envisions war between the native Indians and the whites in a bid to gain independence. However, the war in his dream is fought using traditional means and weapons such as swords, horses, and arrows. The evolution in military tactics to the contemporary world where atomic bombs, rockets, and bioweapons are used signifies the negative impacts of technology in the modern world. The narrator states that a “terrorist bomb exploded, and one more plane crashed, and all aboard were presumed dead” (Sherman 5). The fiction, therefore, calls upon the people to be careful with the changes in technology they employ because it may lead to more harm than good.
The second important aspect of modern fiction depicted in the narrator’s life is the transformation and the relativity of the truth. Marriages in the old days were considered divine, and people respected the marriage institution courtesy of divinity. During those days, people believed that when a husband and a wife were united by their religious leaders, God commissioned it and could not be broken by any powers. However, the current generation doubts spiritual institutions and more people divorce in the contemporary world. The lone ranger constantly fights with his wife and a night hardly passes without them arguing or fighting. The narrator states, “some nights, she fought so bad that I would just get in my car and drive all night” (Sherman 11). The inability to create meaningful relationships with other human beings makes people crave peace in life, which explains today’s numerous depression and suicidal thoughts.
The lone ranger praises an Indian poet who claims that Indians can reside in the city, but they cannot live in the city. The theme of transformation further underscores the fact that the creation of the urban centers does not necessarily make life better, and changes need to be effected to make life bearable in the city. The cities experience pollution, noise, and other forms of advancement, which undermine a person’s existence and need to be controlled to make for a higher quality of life. The overpopulation and lack of opportunities in the overpopulated modernized cities make people ask themselves, “what are you going to do with the rest of your life?” (Sherman, 12). As people ponder to answer the question, they are confronted with the challenges of the modern world and the challenges affecting them, which may lead to depression. A positive change that should be embraced is the resilience to tackle difficult situations using creativity.
The narrator’s experience in the Lone Ranger and Tonto Fist Fight in Heaven shares a glimpse of the challenges existing in the world and the suffering people are exposed to in the modern world. The significant aspects of modern fiction characterized by the narrator’s fate are the aspect of time and realism and doubt in the spiritual institutions that have been respected for ages. The changing times and reality depicted shows the human population and compare the reserve where the narrator grew up and the city of Seattle where he currently resides. Although city life is perceived as perfect, the narrator states the number of times he was robbed, discriminated against, and suffered domestic violence. The author, however, recommends rural and urban integration to improve the quality of life among the population. Failing spiritual institutions like marriage indicate that people no longer respect spirituality over the years, affecting the world. The transformation experienced in the novel is analogous to the contemporary world, and people must embrace peace to improve their quality of life.
Alexie, Sherman. The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven: Stories. Open Road Media, 2013.