I connected most to the short story: The Only Stoplight at the Reservation is Broken by Sherman Alexie. It painted a picture in my mind of the vicious cycle of poverty many Hispanics have felt in America, nearly devoid of opportunities to break it. However, the story also reminded me that there is hope for those who are going through troubling times, and that there could be a way out.
Even though the Native American reservation the story takes place in isnt quite like the crowded tenements and cluttered alleyways familiar to many Hispanics, the story communicated how a minority has to live with and experience poverty. How Sherman Alexie describes the reservation gives a sense of squalor and crime. They were skinny, darkened by the sun, their hair long and wild. None of them looked like they had showered for a week.
Little warriors looking for honor in some twentieth-century vandalism. Throw a few rocks through windows, kick a dog, and slash a tire (2-3). This quote is similar to my own experience in sixth grade because I also felt nervous when I had a basketball game in a shady neighborhood in Seattle, walking down the cracked sidewalk with eyes wide and full of suspicion.
However, this is where many fellow Hispanics have spent their lives, fully exposed to crime and vandalism, maybe even spray-painting brick alley walls with friends from the neighborhood. This poverty experienced by many minorities is an entrapping system with few outlets.
It is difficult for Native Americans on the reservation to find a way out of their cycle of poverty. Their way out is basketball, Julius Winemaker was the latest in a long line of reservation basketball heroes
(3). Even though, the two main characters who narrate the story are unsure of whether Julius will go down the wrong path, So, I asked Adrian. Do you think Julius will make it all the way? Maybe, maybe. Theres a definite history of reservation heroes who never finish high school, who never finish basketball seasons (5-6).
These quotes are an accurate reflection of what results from growing up in a poor neighborhood with limited opportunities. This is especially true for minorities like Hispanics that have to face racism and prejudice. It makes me thankful to be privileged, even with immigrant parents and Hispanic heritage. I am especially thankful that people will assume that I am white and will not subject me to the same prejudice as others of my race, unfair as it is. Even though these cycles of poverty are constricting, it is important to have hope.
However pessimistic the two main characters may be, Alexie added yet another reservation hero, along with a symbol to the story that shows there is still hope for Native Americans on the reservation.
The two main characters talk about an upcoming reservation hero called Lucy, I heard shes so good that she plays for the sixth-grade boys team. Really? Shes only in third grade herself, isn’t she? God, I hope she makes it all the way, (13-14). It is inspiring that they repeatedly find people to believe in, such as this little girl named Lucy, after Julius didn’t make it.
Right after one affirms the others statement about Lucy making it all the way, he stared into the bottom of his cup, and then threw it across the yard. And we both watched it with all of our eyes, watched that cup revolve, revolve, until it came down whole to the ground (14).
This symbol of the thrown cup that hits the ground and doesn’t break represents hope, for Lucy and the reservation, that a positive outcome will be reached. This was a powerful story ending reinforced by several instances in my life such as competitions and tests, where the results are unknown and you know you cant do anything about it but have hope. Also, this message rings true for Hispanics I have once encountered, out on the street, with only a blanket and some tattered clothes, speaking jumbled Spanish, there will be a solution, have hope.
Sherman Alexies short story, The Only Stoplight at the Reservation is Broken reminded me of my experiences with the less privileged Hispanic community and opened my eyes to their struggles. I am thankful to Sherman Alexie for providing a point of view of the situation for many people that share my Hispanic heritage. I am also thankful to him for motivating me to help out others of my race that are in need and step out of my comfort zone regarding my race and identity.