Flight patterns lays emphasis on the contradictions and conflicts facing a modern Indian man who experiences hardships as he strives to balance his family, identity and career. From the story, one apparent factor is true; this is the issue of appreciation. As defined by scholars, appreciation is the act of being grateful and thankful for something. Appreciation revolves around comprehending the various qualities, displayed by individuals and giving them the value that they deserve. Whether given or received, needed or not, appreciation is a universal virtue shared by all people, regardless of their religions, races, ethnicities or cultures. In the story, Flight Patterns, William displays a character that ignores and defies the virtue of appreciation. William is buried down and convinced by his origin, family and pride that he does not see any value, attached to appreciating or receiving appreciation. However, through the taxi- driver’s life story, William’s narrow mindedness takes a new turn, and he starts to see things from a different perspective. This is a perspective that makes it possible for him to see the essence and value of appreciation. Initially, he did not see any sense in appreciation, he considered it a virtue for the weak and those, who want favors, but, Fekadu gives him a new turn and he realizes how he is lucky to be with his family, and why he should rebuild his relationship.
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The discrimination part occurs when William’s wife urges him to stay but William still leaves to attend the meeting in Chicago. Similarly, William is in conflict with himself since he feels that he should be with the family but still leaves for the sake of his career. Lastly, William is in conflict with the society especially due to the expectations it has set for him thus keeping him away from his family. The change of words between William and his wife brings to focus the conflict existing between man versus society and man versus self. The conversation William holds with the taxi driver brings a rise in action as William starts to examine his guilt for leaving his family and he is worried of their safety. At the same time, the conversation between the two men builds a rise in action culminating Fekadu’s story and how man is forced to choose between family and values. At the airport as a result of Fekadu’s story, William decisively and climatically leaves his luggage without minding that such an action might be very fatal to the airport personnel just to look for a phone to call his wife back home. However, the abrupt end of the story does not leave either a resolution or a rising action for the readers. However, the story’s climax gives an essential basis for wrapping up the actions of the characters. William gets his own luggage from the trunk and indication that he has become more interactive than he was before. This signals a change of internal balance representing the start of conflict resolution. Secondly, the action of leaving his luggage behind symbolizes getting rid of social expectations and constraints thus an indication that the conflicts which exists between society and self are almost getting a resolution as he decides to be with his family, his true tribe and identity.
Sherman Alexie employs a number of styles in the story Flight Patterns. More importantly, the author employs the elements of fiction, such as plot, characters and character to express his message. The point of how Americans are haste in making conclusions and judging people due to their races or ethnicities. For instance, William, who is an American, believes he is familiar with American trivia. William is a successful businessman with a loving wife and beautiful girl. He has a strong sense of humor too. William is a professional, who is decidedly much concerned about his self image. This is because William often wears suits and his hair braided in a pony tail. Similarly, William pays a lot of attention to his body; he is a strong man, especially, since the story unfolds to us that he regularly participated in marathon races and lifted weights quite often.
However, William is not pleased with the fact he often has to leave his family and travel, because of his work. Significantly too, William is afraid of flying. From my analysis of this story, I consider William as a speedy decision maker; he is a person, who jumps to reach conclusions without giving them clear thoughts. For instance, William considers brown men as terrorists and he has this phobia of flying in any aircraft that has them. William knows, what being a discrimination victim is, and yet he does the same to others. Though he does this, he regrets everything. The author places a lot of emphasis on William and the interest he has in the American culture. This clearly demonstrates of how much he believes that knowing these cultures will make him more of an American than other Americans, and other people living in the country.
Fekadu, a taxi driver, who picks up William from his house, was a humble man. However, after the first glance at him, William judges him as a black, violent man primarily due to the long scar, he has down his neck. William, who has a business meeting to attend in Chicago, resents the driver, when he wants to start a conversation with him. William is not concerned with the conversation that Fekadu starts, and all that he wants is for Fekadu shut up and drive. However, as the story unfolds, things take a different turn, especially when William hears the life story of the poor driver.
As it turns out, Fekadu had left his home country, since he never wanted to play any role in the death of his countrymen; as a result, the situations forced him to leave his country and his family behind, never to see them again. Before fleeing from his country, Fekadu was a pilot by profession, and this creates a connection between the two characters. William is going to take a flight to Chicago, and Fekadu - to fly the same patters before the misfortune befell on him. As already noted, William is quickness in making conclusions, and when he hears Fekadu’s story, he becomes suspicious. He cannot believe that a man with his knowledge and skills and, who fall that low to become a taxi driver. As they part ways, William doubts the story, but concludes that it did not matter, whether it was right or false, all that mattered was that someone out there real went through the same pain Fekadu was talking of.
All this is happening even after Fekadu has told William that he had a physics degree, which he had earned from Oxford University, Fekadu says, “I was a smart child, a genius; it was Selassie, who sent me to Oxford. There I studied physics, the math and the art of flight” (Alexie 59). Fekadu had fled his country, Ethiopia, without even telling his family. Though he courageous in running away, he, at the same time, feels like he was a coward and his action was an insult to his family and country. William and Fekadu are able to communicate amicably with one another, since they have all faced similar treatment and problems. Problems associated with pain, fear, hope, race and family. William, who lived with his wife and daughter, is a troubled man (Alexie 52). He often experiences frequent night mares about someone, killing his wife and daughter, while away in his many business trips. William is frightened by this fact and he regrets leaving his family behind. Fekadu is also experiencing the same predicament. He feels scared and pain for having left his family behind, when he ran away from Ethiopia. The use of Fekadu and William in the story is to act, as the voice of non white individuals living in the United States of America. It shows the hard life they have to undergo through, due to their differences.
Though dedicated to his family, and hated the fact that he had to leave it behind often, it turns out that he loved his work more. The author says that William was a man, and men are in need of work (Alexie 53). The love William had for his family could only be portrayed through his pride. He was exceptionally proud of the family he had, but he never realized how much the family meant to him. Therefore, William's focus is generally on his job, and not on his family. William did not realize of the effects his lifestyle had on his family. This led to the relation with the family getting detached and deteriorating. William insisted on creating a distance with his family, irrespective of the numerous chants his wife had told him that he needed to stay at home.
The pride William had not only contained within the family setting. William regarded himself mightily in relation to other people. William considered himself better than most people around him. William often had day dreams, trying to emphasis on who he was and what his heritage was. The intentions, William had, were for his fellow travelers to know exactly, who he was, and what his status was in the American society. Since he considered himself a Native American, he thought he had more reasons to pride in the nation than anybody else. He asserted that he had more reasons to terrorize the nation than the Taliban and other terrorist groups. In the book, Alexie tries to bring to light the lifestyle and the contemporary issues, associated with the American environment, especially discrimination and prejudice. By employing and using humor and personal illustrations, the author is very much able to bring out and comment on significant issues, present in the society. Some of the issues evident in the Flight Patterns include families, discrimination, and the fear that people face in their lives.
“Flight Patterns” by Alexie Sherman presents various themes, styles and characterizations devices that are evident in all his literary reviews that serve a general audience as well as the natives of America. Alexie chooses to employ a contradiction between cultural heritage and human nature as main natural themes since they are applicable to all people across time and place. It is a fact that all people regardless of their origin strive in any particular time to try and realize who they real are and how they should live. These themes present a native reader with an opportunity to realize what role heritage plays in life and how it assists in identity development. In addition it leads to understanding the challenges and tragedies posed in life by various factors in life as people strive to preserve traditions and translating the same to modern times.
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