Reservation Blues

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David WalksAlong Character Analysis

The Spokane Tribal Council Chairman, and uncle of Michael White Hawk. He holds a grudge against Thomas because although David was once a talented basketball player, Thomas’ father, Samuel Builds-the-Fire, was a far better player than he ever was. WalksAlong is one of Coyote Springs’ most vocal opponents on the reservation, and he attempts to excommunicate them from the tribe.

David WalksAlong Quotes in Reservation Blues

The Reservation Blues quotes below are all either spoken by David WalksAlong or refer to David WalksAlong. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Race, Culture, and Identity Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Grove Press edition of Reservation Blues published in 1995.
Chapter 10 Quotes

WalksAlong didn’t respond, and Victor left the office, feeling something slip inside him. He stole five dollars from WalksAlong’s secretary’s purse and bought a six-pack of cheap beer at the Trading Post.
“Fuck it, I can do it, too,” Victor whispered to himself and opened the first can. That little explosion of the beer can opening sounded exactly like a smaller, slower version of the explosion that Junior’s rifle made on the water tower.

Related Characters: Victor Joseph (speaker), Junior Polatkin, David WalksAlong
Page Number: 292
Explanation and Analysis:

Victor is rejected by David WalksAlong after making his final desperate attempt to escape the pattern of suffering and despair that has guided his life so far, and that has claimed that of his best friend, Junior. WalksAlong, an elected leader of the tribe, chooses personal vengeance over his responsibility to Victor as a member of the community, mocking the poorly written resume that Victor had brought in search of a job.

This final blow is too much, and Victor, who had previously resolved to give up drinking after being visited by the ghost of Junior, turns immediately to the only relief he has ever known from the suffering that holds him back from success: alcohol. He is too poor to afford it on his own, stealing from WalksAlong’s secretary in a small act of revenge that will only foster further discord in the community. The echo of Junior’s rifle heard in the opening of the beer can is a not-so-subtle sign that this decision is an equivalent surrender to despair, a slower form of suicide that plays into the same pattern.  

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David WalksAlong Character Timeline in Reservation Blues

The timeline below shows where the character David WalksAlong appears in Reservation Blues. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
Race, Culture, and Identity Theme Icon
Hope, Despair, and the Blues Theme Icon
Alcoholism and Patterns of Suffering  Theme Icon
Community, Friendship, and Love Theme Icon
David WalksAlong, the Spokane Council Chairman and once a great basketball player, shows up to a band... (full context)
Race, Culture, and Identity Theme Icon
Hope, Despair, and the Blues Theme Icon
Alcoholism and Patterns of Suffering  Theme Icon
...Hawk dropped out of school after eighth grade, and is unable to read or write. WalksAlong had raised him after his single mother died of cirrhosis when he was two—her drinking... (full context)
Hope, Despair, and the Blues Theme Icon
Alcoholism and Patterns of Suffering  Theme Icon
Storytelling, History, and the Spiritual Theme Icon
Community, Friendship, and Love Theme Icon
...is the only one with any money, and money is power on the reservation. David WalksAlong, for example, was elected Councilman by one vote after paying Lester FallsApart a dollar for... (full context)
Chapter 4
Race, Culture, and Identity Theme Icon
Hope, Despair, and the Blues Theme Icon
Alcoholism and Patterns of Suffering  Theme Icon
...take on all six of the policeman at once. They head to the courts. David WalksAlong, future Tribal Chairman, is the chief of police, and point guard. Samuel steals the ball... (full context)
Race, Culture, and Identity Theme Icon
Hope, Despair, and the Blues Theme Icon
Alcoholism and Patterns of Suffering  Theme Icon
Storytelling, History, and the Spiritual Theme Icon
...game from the past, Samuel scores a thirty-foot jumper, saying, “For Crazy Horse.” He tells WalksAlong that the only way he’ll stop him is with a pistol. Victor, meanwhile, dreams of... (full context)
Race, Culture, and Identity Theme Icon
Hope, Despair, and the Blues Theme Icon
Alcoholism and Patterns of Suffering  Theme Icon
Community, Friendship, and Love Theme Icon
...cops. Officer Wilson throws an elbow and breaks Lester’s nose, then scores an easy basket. WalksAlong calls no foul. Back in the present Junior, who is across the house from Victor,... (full context)
Hope, Despair, and the Blues Theme Icon
Alcoholism and Patterns of Suffering  Theme Icon
Meanwhile the score of the basketball game is 5-3, with the Tribal Cops on top. WalksAlong suggests that Samuel sing “I Fought the Law and the Law Won” after the game.... (full context)
Race, Culture, and Identity Theme Icon
Hope, Despair, and the Blues Theme Icon
Storytelling, History, and the Spiritual Theme Icon
...own. From there the game becomes “a real war,” with hard fouls and fresh wounds. WalksAlong refuses to call fouls, so Samuel runs over him. The cops score again, and now... (full context)
Race, Culture, and Identity Theme Icon
Hope, Despair, and the Blues Theme Icon
Alcoholism and Patterns of Suffering  Theme Icon
...heroically laying the ball gently over the rim. He misses. Officer Wilson rebounds, and then WalksAlong takes a shot. (full context)
Chapter 6
Community, Friendship, and Love Theme Icon
An open letter from David WalksAlong published in the Wellpinit paper speaks out against Coyote Springs’ ability to represent the tribe.... (full context)
Race, Culture, and Identity Theme Icon
Alcoholism and Patterns of Suffering  Theme Icon
Storytelling, History, and the Spiritual Theme Icon
Community, Friendship, and Love Theme Icon
...lies to the doctor, telling him there was a car wreck. White Hawk is Dave WalksAlong’s nephew, and the white people’s laws are to be kept off the reservation. Betty and... (full context)
Race, Culture, and Identity Theme Icon
Hope, Despair, and the Blues Theme Icon
Alcoholism and Patterns of Suffering  Theme Icon
Community, Friendship, and Love Theme Icon
...holed up in Thomas’s house and greeted by silence when they venture out. Led by WalksAlong, the tribe nearly votes to excommunicate them all. They are out of money, living on... (full context)
Chapter 8
Race, Culture, and Identity Theme Icon
Hope, Despair, and the Blues Theme Icon
Alcoholism and Patterns of Suffering  Theme Icon
Storytelling, History, and the Spiritual Theme Icon
...aggressive optimism on his way to the plane the day before, as well as David WalksAlong’s pessimistic prediction that they are “done for.” Junior says he just wants to be good... (full context)
Chapter 10
Race, Culture, and Identity Theme Icon
Hope, Despair, and the Blues Theme Icon
Alcoholism and Patterns of Suffering  Theme Icon
Storytelling, History, and the Spiritual Theme Icon
Community, Friendship, and Love Theme Icon
...to pray, for everybody, as Big Mom puts on a record. Victor goes to David WalksAlong looking for a job. WalksAlong is shocked to see him, after everything that Coyote Springs... (full context)
Race, Culture, and Identity Theme Icon
Hope, Despair, and the Blues Theme Icon
Alcoholism and Patterns of Suffering  Theme Icon
Community, Friendship, and Love Theme Icon
...leave, Big Mom takes up a collection for them from the tribe. Some, like David WalksAlong, donate out of spite to get them off the reservation, while others give out of... (full context)