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Newman English 101: Rhetoric 5 November 2013 Insecurity Insecurity of ones identity tends to cause confusion about oneself and criticism towards others. An example would be how an adolescent girl will criticize her peers due to her lack of self-confidence. In Sherman Aleixies short story, Flight Patterns, William displays insecurity of whether or not he considers himself to be a good husband and father as well as apprehensive about his ethnicity. His insecurities, from a psychoanalytic viewpoint, cause him to criticize other cultures and snub himself on being an unsuccessful husband and father who loves his family. Early in the story, Alexie makes it clear that William loves his wife Marie. William loved and respected his wife, and delighted in her intelligence, humor, and kindness, but also loved to watch her lovelyduring dinner parties and piano recitals and uncontrolled intersections, for instance (51). Alexie goes on about how sexually appealing Marie is to William, involving a sexually explicit inside-joke between the couple involving Scooby-Doo and a few laughs. Through this quote, the reader can assume that William has a healthy relationship with his wife. A few paragraphs ahead, William walks into his daughter Graces room to say goodbye to her before he leaves for his trip. After an exchange of hugs, William

Murguia2 says, Youre such a lovely, lovely girl (51). One can assume, after reading this, that William is also a great father. The confusion described before begins after the exchange in affection is made between William and his family. Already quite sure he was only an adequate husband, he wondered, as he often did, if he was a bad father (51). William wondered if he was an unsuccessful father because he is always gone on business trips. Alexie explains how William spent one third of his life trying to sleep in uncomfortable beds, and another third attempting to stay awake in airports. He would often have nightmares while on his trips about, strangers breaking into the house and killing and raping Marie and Gracewife and daughter cheered for him (53-54). Alexie portrays William as a man who is concerned about the role he plays with his family. He feels he is not around enough and that he would like to change that about himself or, as Alexie put it, He couldnt imagine living anywhere else, with any other wife or child, in any other time (53). But, Alexie immediately contradicts herself by explaining how William would sometimes have fantasies about other women, and how his life would be different if he married and had children with a white woman. He fantasized about one night stands and traveling the world. Alexie soon ends up contradicting herself yet again by declaring, more than anything, he wanted to stay home with his fair and decent family (53). Such declarations indicate that William immediately feels bad and questions whether or not he is a good family man after having these thoughts. In addition to being uncertain about where he stands with his family, William also is not sure where he stands in his ethnicity. God, Im supposed to be some electric aboriginal warrior, but Im really a wimpy liberal pacifist. Here, William is simply saying that instead of acting like the stereotypical Native American he was born to be, he lives his life acting like a stereotypical white man. Other aspects about Williamss life that confuse him about his ethnicity are not only

Murguia3 how he views himself, but how others view him. People in airports seem to think he looks like a middle-eastern terrorist or as some Mexican fellow with long hair. Williams insecurities regarding whether or not he feels he is a good husband and father or what his ethnic identity is, from a psychoanalytic point of view, causes him to subconsciously want to relieve his frustration. One way he releases his frustration is by criticizing and stereotyping other races in order to get a laugh from it to make himself feel better about his own ethnic confusion. William regularly insults and stereotypes many different races. Sometimes they can be seen as being done for a cheap laugh, but other times they seem much deeper and hostile. While William is speaking with Fekadu, the taxi driver, he tells him that he is Indian, but specifies that he is not a jewel-on-the-forehead Indian, but a much smarter, bows-and-arrows Indian (56). Shortly after, William listens to Fekadu stereotyping black Americans as hip-hop gangsters obsessed with what coast everybodys from and then goes along with Fekadu when he says, because people think Im black, they dont see me as a terrorist, only as a crack-head addict on welfare (57). William, after acknowledging Fekadus comment, proceeds to go on a very detailed rant that seemed a bit hostile about white people. Exactly! I didnt want to see some pacifist, vegan, whole-wheat, free-range, organic, progressive, gray-ponytail, communist, liberal, draft-dodging, NPR-listening wimp! What are they going to do if somebody tries to hijack the plane? Throw a Birkenstock at him? Offer him some pot? (58). After a quick remark by Fekadu, William continued his rant on white people. But on that plane, I was hoping for about twenty-five NRA-loving, gun nut, serial killing, psychopathic, Ollie North, Norman Schwazkopf, right-wing, Agent Orange, post-traumatic-stress-disorder, CIA, FBI, automaticweapon, smart-bomb, laser-sighting bastards! (58). The irony behind Williams insult against white people, is that he previously labeled himself as a white person. Even more ironic, William

Murguia4 described how after 9/11 he was told by an angry person to go back to his country, to which he replied, you first!(57). Here he is referring to himself as a Native American again, which further demonstrates Williams ethnic confusion. There are many things humans do subconsciously that in some way or another, make them feel more at ease. In Flight Patterns, Sherman Alexie shows William to be a man who is insecure about whether or not he is a good father, and is not sure of his ethnic identity. Such insecurities, when evaluated from a psychoanalytic point-of-view, seem to frustrate him enough to the point where he feels he needs to take out his frustration on others. The way he does so is by making racial comments towards other races in order to relieve his own ethnic misperception. He also takes out his frustration on himself by kicking himself for never being home and making himself feel like a bad family man even after his family shows him their love.

Works Cited Alexie, Sherman. "Flight Patterns." 2003. The Norton Introduction to Literature. Ed. Alison Booth, J. Paul Hunter, and Kelly J. Mays. 9th ed. New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 2005. 49-61. Print.