Contrast to Show Understanding in Sherman Alexie's "Class"

998 words 4 pages
The short story "Class" by Sherman Alexie tells of the struggles of an American Indian man and tries to demonstrate how he reacts to his contrasted feelings and diverse world around him. The central theme of Alexie's short story is contrast, and this theme is evident throughout the story, even in the smallest of details. The actions, emotions and even the language of the characters contrast and these contrasts clearly illustrate the difference the characters have in class.
Marriage, the central part of the lives of the main characters, is viewed in opposing ways through their actions. Susan's, Edgar's wife, description of what Edgar's love did for her involves the contrasting natural elements of snow and heat, also the elements of
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Junior asks him "What the fuck are you looking at (592)," and Edgar says that he "…had no idea that ‘fuck' could be such a dangerous word (592)." The contrast in the context of the use of the word echo's the differences between the bartender, Junior, and Edgar.
Although it is highly probable that the bartender, Junior, and Edgar all grew up on American Indian Reservations, there are tremendous differences in their adult lives. Junior is a somewhat privileged upper middle class man with no real worries. He stated himself that he makes more in one month than his mom makes in a year, and he is depressed and coming to the bar because his wife won't sleep with him. Junior and the bartender only wish that they had Edgar's problems, they literally have to worry about having enough food to feed their families. The bartender acknowledges that she, Junior, and Edgar are all Indians, but that they live in different worlds. The realization that he is different from others around him eventually helps to put things in perspective for Edgar.
Polar opposites are apparent throughout "Class." These opposites add depth and understanding to the characters. The opposing views of marriage shared by Susan and Edgar contribute to the problems and miscommunications that they have. The readers understanding of the main character, Edgar is enhanced by his mixed feelings about his heritage. The difference in social class between Junior, the bartender, and