Undone and Renewed by Time: History as Burden and/or Opportunity in Sherman Alexie’s Flight.

  • Aitor Ibarrola-Armendariz
  • Estibaliz Vivanco
Keywords: Native-American fiction, Sherman Alexie, historiographic metafiction, Flight, narrative technique, time-traveling


Zits, the protagonist of Sherman Alexie’s Flight (2007), is a half-breed Native American teenager who has serious problems in defining his own identity and finding his place in contemporary U.S. society. A lack of parental guidance and the cruelty of the foster-care system turn him into an angry and dysfunctional young man who is brought close to committing a massacre. However, just when he is about to pull the trigger, he ‘falls through time’ to revisit some of the key episodes in Native-American history, and a few other recent events, in the shoes of characters belonging to diverse racial and social categories. This figurative journey through history allows Alexie —and Zits— to dig deep into the motives behind conflicts that may explain the plight of Native Americans today. Time-traveling proves an effective fictional device that helps the author —and his readers— to explore these historical junctures from unusual viewpoints in order to see what official accounts have neglected or willfully forgotten. Flight represents, therefore, an illuminating instance of historiographic metafiction in which the writer manages both to retrieve and reconstruct important fragments of his peoples’ collective past and to surmise the kind of light that those events cast on their present condition.

Author Biographies

Aitor Ibarrola-Armendariz
Universidad de Deusto
Estibaliz Vivanco
Universidad de Deusto