Flight Sherman Alexie

A Declaration of Independence: A post-colonial analysis on identity in Flight

Peter Barry, a literary theorist, describes three stages of a post-colonial text: Adopt, Adapt, and Adept. In literature, these three stages form the developmental pathway in which a character is transformed and led to their “declaration of cultural independence” (Barry 189-190). In the coming of age novel, Flight, these stages play out as Sherman Alexie takes one down this pathway of post-colonialism through the complex personal journey of multicultural boy called “Zits.” Zits bears the burden of orphanage, foster homes, and personal loneliness, however his ultimate struggle distills down to a fight with his past and his self identity. Being of multicultural background, Native American and White, these struggles surface as he tries to fit into two separate racial worlds which have, ideologically, never been equal. This fight poses the question, “How do external and cultural stereotypes affect Zits’s self identity?” Following the words of Barry, it is the “unstable nature of personal and gender identity, the shifting,… contradictory currents of signification… [in] which ideological struggles are acted out”(189). To reconcile his identity with his past, Zits must confront the contradictions, such as his race. Using a post colonial standpoint, Alexie portrays how breaking down external identities, changing perceptions, and understanding cultural barriers ultimately allows Zits to find his true identity and find solace within his fragmented past.
Initially, Zits adopts an external view of himself and allows others to stereotype his identity. By adopting the alias name, “Zits,” he both deprecates and mocks himself through his acne to shield his true vulnerabilities. Even when describing himself, Zits cannot find anything positive. Looking in a mirror, he says in a frustrated manner that he is “ashamed of being fifteen…   tall… skinny… and ugly,” which he believes derive from his Indian...