In the essay “The Joy of Reading and Writing: Superman and Me,” Sherman Alexie credits learning to read a Superman comic book with saving his life. As an Indian boy growing up on a reservation in Spokane, Washington, where being uneducated was not the exception but the rule, Alexie was given few opportunities to succeed. The Superman comic book was the book he taught himself to read with, which in turn saved him from going down a path that lead to a the life of inferiority and failure. Learning to read gave him the confidence to break down a door that had previously prevented Indians from succeeding as well as the driving force that allowed him to persevere against the adversity he faced. The significance of Superman is carried on
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Throughout the essay you can feel his sense of urgency to learn to read, desperation to gain as much knowledge as he could. “I refused to fail. I was smart. I was arrogant. I was lucky. I read books late into the night, until I could barely keep my eyes open. I read books at recess, then during lunch, and in the few minutes left after my I had finished my classroom assignments…I read magazines. I read anything that had words and paragraphs. I read with equal parts joy and desperation. I loved those books, but I also knew that love had only one purpose. I was trying to save my life” (Alexie, 30).
The Superman metaphor is present in each theme Alexie proposes as the idea; the presence of barriers, the need for inspiration and appreciation for the confidence reading gave him which pushed him to succeed are all metaphors for Superman. A superhero is thought of to be someone with the abilities to do things beyond humans; Alexie possesses superhero qualities by virtue of being a writer and becoming something “beyond Indians” (Alexie, 30).
Despite all the books he reads, Alexie is surprised he became a writer, he had in fact planned on becoming a pediatrician. Though Alexie himself was surprised by the seemingly different direction his life took, upon reflection his plans and his actions are closer in intention than one would realize. A pediatrician is trusted and respected because of his commitment to the well-being of the children in a