Monday, May 30, 2011

Dreams and whatnot in "Indian Killer"

As I read Indian Killer by Sherman Alexie I used sticky notes to keep track of where dreams/visions occurred or were mentioned in the book.

SPOILERS

However, I soon stopped keeping track of John's visions. Why? Because he's crazy. I certainly could examine his visions as I do the others in the book, but I'm not going to do that here.

Also, my writing here will be MESSY. Some of what I write here I've already thought about, some of it you'll see the thought process as it's happening and I won't bother to clean it up. It'll get cleaned up elsewhere.


"He had never remembered his dreams very well, but last night, he knew he had fought off a variety of faceless monsters. Then he had dreamed about the murders. To his surprise, Wilson had dreamed of David Rogers's face as a bullet passed through his brain, had seen the blood fountain from Justin Summers's belly, had heard the muffled cries of Mark Jones. Now Wilson's arms and legs felt sore" (227).

Wilson, the ex-cop and bad fiction writer is dreaming. He dreams about the monsters he used to face, as a cop, and then the current monster that he is trying to write about.

I'm really not sure what else to say about this particular dream.


"He often visited the owls in the Woodland Park Zoo, and they often came to visit him in his dreams.

In one recurring dream, Wilson is riding with his real parents in a big car. They are all quiet and content. Hank Williams on the radio. Wilson looks up at his father, who is driving and smoking a cigar. Wilson's father looks back and smiles around the cigar. It is a beautiful moment. Wilson's mother is humming along with the radio. She is small and pale, ethereal in the darkness of the car. Then the family looks ahead, headlights illuminating the dark road. Wilson's father inhales and exhales smoke. Suddenly, an owl floats directly in front of the car. Wilson's father has not time to hit the brakes. Wilson can only begin the first note of a scream when the owl crashes through the windshield. Wilson always wakes up at that moment in the dream"
(242).

Another dream for the ex-cop.

One noteworthy detail is that his mother "is small and pale", interesting since Wilson identifies himself as Indian. So, does he identify himself as half Indian, and half white? (Which obviously he isn't, but...)

And what's with the cigar? In the following paragraph it's revealed that Wilson's father never smoked. So why has he got a cigar here?

Could it be because to the Native Americans tobacco is sacred, and so Wilson has inserted his father using tobacco as a way to Native Americanize him? Of course, tobacco is supposed to only be used in ceremonial circumstances or while bonding with other males (unless I'm greatly mistaken), not when driving down the road with family. So either Wilson is clueless or something else is going on.

And then the owl. The owl is a symbol of death, and the killer leaves owl feathers as his signature. And here we see the owl being the cause of his parents' death. So is this dream emphasizing that this is what the owl means to Wilson?

Is the owl a symbol of death for all Native Americans? Or does it mean other things to certain tribes? What about the tribes mentioned in this book? What does it mean to them?


"Olivia thought back to John's nightmares. How the child often screamed himself awake. Night terrors, the doctor said, he'll grow out of them" (317).

More details are provided, but not what the nightmares are. Might these have been the early indications of his madness? Not that nightmares are a sign of madness (otherwise we'd all be mad!) but sometimes it would seem like he could see something that wasn't there.

Ok, I'm getting spooked. Moving on!


"He dreamed constantly about the murders. He saw the face of that man in Fremont when the knife slid across his throat, and felt the weight of that little boy's body. After those dreams, Wilson would lie awake for hours, staring at the walls" (337).

The second dream of this kind, I'd say this shows that Wilson is hyper-focusing and fixating on the murders. I'm not sure what else to say.

...other than that there's a bridge in downtown Portland that's called the Fremont Bridge and it's absolutely beautiful. But that's totally off topic! lol


"Still, he knew that Indians were supposed to listen carefully to their dreams. Aristotle Little Hawk had solved more than one crime by using information he had obtained in dreams. Wilson felt he'd been chosen for a special task. Maybe that was the reason for his dreams. People were dying horribly for reasons he alone understood, and he was the only one who could truly talk about the Indian Killer. Wilson knew that he was writing more than a novel. He would rite the book that would finally reveal tot he world what it truly meant to be Indian" (338).

How arrogant can you get? To think that he's the only person who can possibly understand horrible deaths, and that he'd be the one to reveal what it is to be Native American.

This gives us some insight to his character, and how he understands his dreams. Which is perhaps more valuable than the dreams themselves.


"Wilson was thinking about John Smith, then fell so quickly to sleep that he effortlessly slipped into a dream about Smith. He dreamed about Smith pushing that knife into the white man in the University District. He saw Smith slit the throat of the businessman. Then Smith was smiling as he lifted the young boy from his bed. Then Wilson saw himself with that knife. Wilson saw himself pushing the knife into one white body, then another, and another, until there were multitudes" ( 390-1).

The dream changes and continues, but I'm not going to type it out word for word. What happens: Wilson dreams that he himself becomes a victim (of a man with a brown hand, so apparently Indian), and is stuffed out of the way in a car. He hears sirens, but people are apparently oblivious to what's happening to him.

So what does it mean that Wilson dreams that he himself takes up the knife and kills people? I'm really not sure what to say.

What I do know is that John slips into Wilson's home and carries him off to the fortieth floor of the skyscraper being built. My guess is that Wilson is hit over the head in his sleep and that the change in his dream is John hitting him over the head.


"Because he said he dreamed about killing people" (394).

This is Dr. Mather saying repeating something that Reggie had (supposedly) told him before. Whether it's true or not, who knows. I think its accuracy can be called into doubt because Dr. Mather also says of Reggie "I always worried that Reggie was going to hurt somebody." I doubt this because I know the two of them had been close once.

Regardless, I figured I should mention this because it's mention of a dream.

And if it's true that Reggie would dream about killing... it could perhaps have something to do with his father, and how violent his father was to him as a child.


"John wondered if Wilson knew the difference between dreaming and reality. How one could easily become the other.

In his dreams, John saw his Indian mother standing on the porch as he drove away from the reservation. It was cold and rainy, as it would be on a day such as that. Or on another day, in another dream, his Indian mother on the delivery table, in all the blood, too much blood. She has died during his birth. An evil child, he destroyed his mother's life as she gave him his"
(403).

It's interesting that John thinks about "the difference between dreaming and reality" considering that the two become so confused in his own mind.

And then, for the first time, it is revealed what John dreams about at least some of the time.

He dreams about his birth mother. He'll dream about hurting his mother by leaving, presumably to go away to college (as that is a day dream of his -- growing up on the rez and then leaving his home for college). He also dreams about his birth killing his mother, which for all he knows could be the truth.

Either way, he's hurting his mother.

What's the purpose of this dream? Let's see...maybe...to show his state of mind? To show what he thinks of himself? "An evil child, he destroyed his mother's life as she gave him his." Is this what he thinks of himself?

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