The symbol of Alcohol in The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven from LitCharts | The creators of SparkNotes
The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven

The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven

Alcohol Symbol Icon

In almost every story in The Lone Ranger and Tonto, Sherman Alexie engages directly with the common cultural stereotype—and devastating real-life epidemic—of Native Americans falling victim to alcoholism, or engaging in excessive drinking. In the introduction, Alexie himself states that he was “vilified in certain circles for [his] alcohol-soaked stories” when the collection debuted. “Everybody,” he continues, “in the book is drunk or in love with a drunk.” Throughout the text, the appearance of alcohol—or an alcoholic character—represents the cultural loss, longing, and pain that all of these characters experience each day; alcohol represents a void that opportunity might have filled in, were opportunities for success, health, and happiness more readily available to the Indians of Alexie’s reservation. In “A Drug Called Tradition,” Alexie writes longingly of a shared vision experienced by Victor, Junior, and Thomas—a vision attained after the three of them experiment with drugs at a local lake. “They are all carried away to the past [by their visions], to the moment before any of them took their first drink of alcohol.” This longing can be seen as a symbolic metaphor for a kind of cultural longing that resents the pain of white America’s influence on Native life.

Alcohol Quotes in The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven

The The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven quotes below all refer to the symbol of Alcohol. 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:
Violence, Poverty, and Loss Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Grove Press edition of The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven published in 2013.
Every Little Hurricane Quotes

Victor could see his uncles slugging each other with such force that they had to be in love. Strangers would never want to hurt each other that badly.

Related Characters: Victor, Arnold , Adolph
Related Symbols: Alcohol
Page Number: 2
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!
Only Traffic Signal on the Reservation… Quotes

It’s almost like Indians can easily survive the big stuff. Mass murder, loss of language and land and rights. It’s the small things that hurt the most. The white waitress who wouldn’t take an order, Tonto, the Washington Redskins. And, just like everybody else, Indians need heroes to help them learn how to survive. But what happens when our heroes don’t even know how to pay their bills?

Related Characters: Victor (speaker), Julius Windmaker, Adrian
Page Number: 49
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Ain’t no children on a reservation.

Related Characters: Adrian (speaker), Victor, Julius Windmaker
Related Symbols: Alcohol
Page Number: 50
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

All I Wanted To Do Was Dance Quotes

He counted his coins. Enough for a bottle of wine in the Trading Post. He walked down the hill and into the store, grabbed the bottle, paid for it with nickels and pennies, and walked into the parking lot. Victor pulled the wine from its paper bag, cracked the seal, and twisted the cap off. Jesus, he wanted to drink so much his blood could make the entire tribe numb.

Related Characters: Victor
Related Symbols: Alcohol
Page Number: 90
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Get the entire Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven LitChart as a printable PDF.
The lone ranger and tonto fistfight in heaven.pdf.medium

Alcohol Symbol Timeline in The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven

The timeline below shows where the symbol Alcohol appears in The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Every Little Hurricane
Memory, Bearing Witness, Storytelling, and Imagination Theme Icon
...and his nightmares often feature drowning. He also dreams of swallowing other liquids besides water; “whiskey, vodka, and tequila, those fluids swallowing him just as easily as he swallowed them.” (full context)
Violence, Poverty, and Loss Theme Icon
Memory, Bearing Witness, Storytelling, and Imagination Theme Icon
Cultural Pain vs. Personal Pain Theme Icon
Community vs. Isolation Theme Icon
...a specific, painful memory.” The collective pain at the party grows and expands, and the drinking intensifies. Victor, back in bed, feels as if the basement ceiling above him is “lower[ing]... (full context)
A Drug Called Tradition
Memory, Bearing Witness, Storytelling, and Imagination Theme Icon
Cultural Pain vs. Personal Pain Theme Icon
Community vs. Isolation Theme Icon
Thomas tells a story of three Indian boys drinking diet Pepsi out by Benjamin Lake, “wearing only loincloths and braids.” The boys, Thomas says,... (full context)
Because My Father Always Said He Was the Only Indian Who Saw Jimi Hendrix Play ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ at Woodstock
Violence, Poverty, and Loss Theme Icon
Memory, Bearing Witness, Storytelling, and Imagination Theme Icon
Cultural Pain vs. Personal Pain Theme Icon
Community vs. Isolation Theme Icon
Love and Hatred Theme Icon
Throughout Victor’s childhood, Victor says, Jimi Hendrix and his father “became drinking buddies.” Victor would put on the tape of “The Star-Spangled Banner” every time his father... (full context)
The Only Traffic Signal on the Reservation Doesn’t Flash Red Anymore
Violence, Poverty, and Loss Theme Icon
Cultural Pain vs. Personal Pain Theme Icon
Community vs. Isolation Theme Icon
...his friend Adrian, seated on Victor’s front porch, play around with a BB gun and drink Diet Pepsis, since they “don’t drink” anymore. They look out at the reservation, and notice... (full context)
Violence, Poverty, and Loss Theme Icon
Memory, Bearing Witness, Storytelling, and Imagination Theme Icon
Cultural Pain vs. Personal Pain Theme Icon
Community vs. Isolation Theme Icon
...“on the same porch in the same chairs.”They see Julius Windmaker “staggering” down the road, “drunk as a skunk.” Adrian and Victor know that Julius has a basketball game that evening,... (full context)
Violence, Poverty, and Loss Theme Icon
Memory, Bearing Witness, Storytelling, and Imagination Theme Icon
Cultural Pain vs. Personal Pain Theme Icon
Community vs. Isolation Theme Icon
...shots, and eventually benches himself. Back on Victor’s porch after the game, Adrian and Victor drink Pepsis and Adrian notices that the traffic light is still broken. The two of them... (full context)
Amusements
Community vs. Isolation Theme Icon
...the taverns at closing time [and] drank all the half-empties,” passes out on the ground, intoxicated, “in the middle of a white carnival.” Victor and his friend Sadie stand over Joe’s... (full context)
This is What it Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona
Violence, Poverty, and Loss Theme Icon
Memory, Bearing Witness, Storytelling, and Imagination Theme Icon
Community vs. Isolation Theme Icon
Love and Hatred Theme Icon
...were fifteen; they had long since stopped being friends,” and got into a fistfight. Victor, intoxicated, beat Thomas up “for no reason at all.” Their friends, including Junior, stood by and... (full context)
The Fun House
Violence, Poverty, and Loss Theme Icon
Memory, Bearing Witness, Storytelling, and Imagination Theme Icon
Community vs. Isolation Theme Icon
Love and Hatred Theme Icon
...a flashback to thirty years previous, before the birth of her son, the narrator’s aunt—named Nezzy—drinks and dances with her husband in an “Indian cowboy bar.” On the way back home,... (full context)
All I Wanted To Do Was Dance
Violence, Poverty, and Loss Theme Icon
Memory, Bearing Witness, Storytelling, and Imagination Theme Icon
Cultural Pain vs. Personal Pain Theme Icon
Community vs. Isolation Theme Icon
Victor drunkenly dances with a Lakota woman at a bar in Montana. He is dancing with “the... (full context)
Cultural Pain vs. Personal Pain Theme Icon
Community vs. Isolation Theme Icon
...and watches as a “pretty blond woman” delivers the local news. Suddenly overwhelmed by his hangover from the night before, he runs to the bathroom and throws up. He returns to... (full context)
Memory, Bearing Witness, Storytelling, and Imagination Theme Icon
Cultural Pain vs. Personal Pain Theme Icon
Community vs. Isolation Theme Icon
Love and Hatred Theme Icon
...and sees his mother and his father; they wave. Victor notes that they are both drunk. After the dance, Victor eats fry bread and drinks Pepsi. His parents fall asleep together,... (full context)
Violence, Poverty, and Loss Theme Icon
Memory, Bearing Witness, Storytelling, and Imagination Theme Icon
Cultural Pain vs. Personal Pain Theme Icon
Community vs. Isolation Theme Icon
Love and Hatred Theme Icon
In another memory of his past, Victor recalls being drunk on a night out with his white ex-girlfriend. She urges him to stop drinking, but... (full context)
Violence, Poverty, and Loss Theme Icon
Cultural Pain vs. Personal Pain Theme Icon
Community vs. Isolation Theme Icon
...jobs in order to make ends meet. On paydays, he stands in front of the beer cooler at the Trading Post, staring for hours at the bottles. Once, he remembers, he bought... (full context)
Violence, Poverty, and Loss Theme Icon
Cultural Pain vs. Personal Pain Theme Icon
Community vs. Isolation Theme Icon
...sleepless night, Victor counts his spare change, and takes it to buy a bottle of wine from the Trading Post. As Victor is about to take a drink, a stranger approaches... (full context)
Jesus Christ’s Half-Brother is Alive and Well on the Spokane Indian Reservation
Violence, Poverty, and Loss Theme Icon
Memory, Bearing Witness, Storytelling, and Imagination Theme Icon
Cultural Pain vs. Personal Pain Theme Icon
Community vs. Isolation Theme Icon
In 1967, the (unnamed) narrator is in a bar drinking with Frank Many Horses and another friend, Lester FallsApart. The three of them hear sirens... (full context)
Violence, Poverty, and Loss Theme Icon
Cultural Pain vs. Personal Pain Theme Icon
Community vs. Isolation Theme Icon
...he still hasn’t cried though he’s “a few years old.” Afterward, the narrator goes out drinking “all night long,” while James is passed around from one of the narrator’s friends to... (full context)
Memory, Bearing Witness, Storytelling, and Imagination Theme Icon
Cultural Pain vs. Personal Pain Theme Icon
Community vs. Isolation Theme Icon
...to a Christmas party and leaves James with a relative “so [he] can get really drunk.” The narrator plays basketball despite his bad knee, and worries that James will stay “like... (full context)
Violence, Poverty, and Loss Theme Icon
Memory, Bearing Witness, Storytelling, and Imagination Theme Icon
Cultural Pain vs. Personal Pain Theme Icon
Community vs. Isolation Theme Icon
The narrator prays each day not to drink but doesn’t know “who [he’s] praying to, and if it’s the basketball gathering ash on... (full context)
Violence, Poverty, and Loss Theme Icon
Memory, Bearing Witness, Storytelling, and Imagination Theme Icon
Community vs. Isolation Theme Icon
Love and Hatred Theme Icon
...some younger Indian boys and girls. When he plays, he says, he doesn’t feel like drinking. James watches him play. The narrator says that James “always talks whenever [he’s] not in... (full context)
Violence, Poverty, and Loss Theme Icon
Memory, Bearing Witness, Storytelling, and Imagination Theme Icon
Cultural Pain vs. Personal Pain Theme Icon
Community vs. Isolation Theme Icon
Love and Hatred Theme Icon
...He says the first thing he wanted after he was born was a shot of whiskey. He says that we should be living for each other.” (full context)
A Train is an Order of Occurrence Designed to Lead to Some Result
Violence, Poverty, and Loss Theme Icon
Memory, Bearing Witness, Storytelling, and Imagination Theme Icon
Cultural Pain vs. Personal Pain Theme Icon
Community vs. Isolation Theme Icon
Samuel heads to the Midway Tavern, where he knows “all the Indians drink in eight-hour shifts.” Samuel considers the idea that God is just the planet’s maid. Samuel... (full context)
Violence, Poverty, and Loss Theme Icon
Cultural Pain vs. Personal Pain Theme Icon
Community vs. Isolation Theme Icon
Samuel stays in the bar until closing time. Then he staggers through Spokane, drunk and alone, and falls “face down” onto the Union Pacific Railroad tracks. He can hear... (full context)
The Approximate Size of My Favorite Tumor
Memory, Bearing Witness, Storytelling, and Imagination Theme Icon
Love and Hatred Theme Icon
James remembers his and Norma’s wedding. One of his cousins, “drunk as a skunk,” stood up in the middle of the ceremony and began to eulogize... (full context)
Indian Education
Violence, Poverty, and Loss Theme Icon
Memory, Bearing Witness, Storytelling, and Imagination Theme Icon
Cultural Pain vs. Personal Pain Theme Icon
Community vs. Isolation Theme Icon
...people.” Junior recalls that fourth grade was “the year [his] father drank a gallon of vodka a day and the same year [his] mother started two hundred quilts but never finished... (full context)
Violence, Poverty, and Loss Theme Icon
Memory, Bearing Witness, Storytelling, and Imagination Theme Icon
Cultural Pain vs. Personal Pain Theme Icon
Community vs. Isolation Theme Icon
...next door. The sound, Junior says, is familiar “after years of listening to [his] father’s hangovers.” On the reservation, Junior stands in line for food with his mother, “happy to have... (full context)
Memory, Bearing Witness, Storytelling, and Imagination Theme Icon
Cultural Pain vs. Personal Pain Theme Icon
Community vs. Isolation Theme Icon
...with] diabetes.” Meanwhile, though, a Chicano teacher approaches Junior and asks him what he’s been drinking. “Indian kids,” the teacher says, “start drinking real young.” Junior learns that “sharing dark skin... (full context)
The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven
Violence, Poverty, and Loss Theme Icon
Memory, Bearing Witness, Storytelling, and Imagination Theme Icon
Cultural Pain vs. Personal Pain Theme Icon
Community vs. Isolation Theme Icon
Love and Hatred Theme Icon
...often; Victor teased her about her job as a kindergarten teacher, and she berated his drinking. Victor began having disturbing dreams, and often saw himself as a doomed war chief, or... (full context)
Family Portrait
Violence, Poverty, and Loss Theme Icon
Memory, Bearing Witness, Storytelling, and Imagination Theme Icon
Cultural Pain vs. Personal Pain Theme Icon
Community vs. Isolation Theme Icon
Love and Hatred Theme Icon
...a game of playing pretend with this brother and sisters. His father, he remembers, stumbled drunk off the bottom step of the porch and “came back years later with diabetes and... (full context)
Witnesses, Secret and Not
Violence, Poverty, and Loss Theme Icon
Memory, Bearing Witness, Storytelling, and Imagination Theme Icon
Cultural Pain vs. Personal Pain Theme Icon
Community vs. Isolation Theme Icon
...his father see an Indian man they know—they call him Jimmy Shit Pants. He is drunk, and the narrator and his father give him some money, then “dr[ive] off and [leave]... (full context)
Violence, Poverty, and Loss Theme Icon
Memory, Bearing Witness, Storytelling, and Imagination Theme Icon
Cultural Pain vs. Personal Pain Theme Icon
Community vs. Isolation Theme Icon
...once, in a car crash, he killed a white driver accidentally. Because the man was intoxicated, and the narrator’s father was sober, he bore no responsibility in the man’s death. (full context)
Junior Polatkin’s Wild West Show
Memory, Bearing Witness, Storytelling, and Imagination Theme Icon
Cultural Pain vs. Personal Pain Theme Icon
Community vs. Isolation Theme Icon
Love and Hatred Theme Icon
Lynn tells Junior that she notices he drinks a lot at parties. She asks him if it is “lonely” being the only Indian... (full context)