6 March 2013
Knowledge is Power
An individual can be considered dangerous without causing direct physical harm to another individual. In the essay Superman and Me, Sherman Alexie describes his childhood growing up on an Indian reservation. There, being able to read and write was an oddity, but Alexie was determined to teach himself despite the circumstances. Children learning to be literate, however, was not highly regarded in the Spokane Indian Reservation where he grew up. Alexie's claim that a literate person—especially a member of any group that has experienced discrimination—is a dangerous individual is correct.
The definition of the word dangerous will vary from person to person. Alexie states, “A smart Indian is a dangerous person, widely feared and ridiculed by Indians and non-Indians alike,” (Alexie 6). Based on Alexie's use of the word, he proves that a literate (smart) person is dangerous. In the context he provides, Alexie believes that a discriminated group of individuals, in this case Indians, acts differently because other people would resent them if they were knowledgeable.
Alexie goes on to describe himself and other children growing up. “As Indian children, we were expected to fail in the non-Indian world. Those who failed were ceremonially accepted by other Indians and appropriately pitied by non-Indians,” (Alexie 6). Here Alexie suggests that it was normal for Indian children to be illiterate. In fact, becoming literate was strongly discouraged. Because Alexie believed that a smart Indian person was considered dangerous, he understood that a child's submissive behavior was an attempt to fit the stereotype: that Indians were not supposed to be smart.
Alexie, however, chose to challenge that stereotype when he said, “I refused to fail … I was arrogant,” (Alexie 7). He states that he was being arrogant to teach himself to read and write. Understanding that he was going against the typical behavior of...