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
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?
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.