“You Don’t have to Say you Love Me” Literary Analysis

You don’t have to say you love me is a book by Sherman Alexie that got published in the year 2017. The book is 464 pages and is published by little brown and co. its Number is ISBN-13: 9780316270755. The book is about the family of Sherman and a memoir about love, loss, and forgiveness. He details the trials and tribulations that they underwent from his parent’s time to his and also to the next generation.

The book articulates how family relationship is dynamic and complicated. The story focusses more on Sherman’s mom who went through a lot of difficulties to ensure that the family had basic needs. She had a violent past and an alcoholic habit that threatened to tear their union apart. The book depicts the struggles, trials, and tribulation of a family of Indian descent in the harsh economic environment engulfed with traditional beliefs and inborn disease. The Memoir finds funny moments, angry moments, coping with depression and a desire to better the family’s way of life.

The author has to cope with the loss of lives in his lineage. His life wasn’t expected to be as long as he lived with the disease that he was born having. He speaks of ghosts and how they indulged into conversations about his past. His mom Lillian Alexie is described as a beautiful, intelligent, abusive complicated human being. The love by Sherman towards his mother can be felt from the first page to the last page. The events that happen in the family makes a reader believe that miracles do come true.

The book isn’t a narrative per , but it is more of a portrait of his mother, his father, the racism during his times, his writing life, the native American culture as interacting with the other traditions. Sherman has a dysfunctional relationship with his mother such that they don’t speak for years, but they show care differently. With his father available at home than his mother, he tends to respect or be in good terms with dad than mom.

Another issue with him is the understanding that he has the same anger problems like his mom. His mom has outbursts from time to time because of frustrations and perhaps depression. It is the same case with his father who is clinically alcoholic and depressed due to life’s challenges.

In his life as a writer, Sherman is quick to note the racist beliefs that his peers have. The predominantly white community are ready to see the difference between him and themselves. This is usually said out there as a way to make him feel inferior to the other people around him. In his memoir, the category states the different generations and the trauma that they faced up to this century. In the US schools, there is also very little written about the Native Americans after their massacre in 1890. Their previous lives and culture were utterly wiped out, and the new dominant race did not provide any support to them that remained. This memoir paints a clear picture of the repercussions of war and how long it takes to heal the wounds.

He also does an interesting social analysis of privileges that other societies enjoy over others. He is lucky to have experienced both worlds of being oppressed to being given preference. He considers himself to have attained social, economic success such that he gets to see his problems behind him. He studied in a predominantly white school and finally became his longtime dream of becoming a writer.

The book is a well-written memoir of the suffering that the Native Americans underwent under the hands of other communities. With the book, a more in-depth understanding is portrayed in why other races are superior to other ones. It’s a topic of concern to let the public know of the difficulties others endure to this day. The book will also help in finding solutions to ensure that the problem doesn’t reoccur.

The writer remembers the songs that they used to sing when they were younger, a powpow version of “cats in the cradle.” (Alexie, 28 )

Coffee spoon way ya hi yo

Indian moon, way ya hi yo

Daddy is drunk at noon

And won’t be home soon

Way ya way ya ho

The poems that Sherman employs in the chapters describe his emotions at different times. They, however, do not explain the complete story about his life. It will be difficult to understand the poems without reading the whole memoir. One verse is his fight against cancer that took his mother. Another is about the events that happened on the day that she died. The other poem is about the many famous people and how they came to die. The next one was about their culture as Native Americans. He speaks of how his mom would love to collect a porcupine’s quills. These were used for traditional dancing events where they would wear attires that had the feathers.

The other poem was about his cousin and how she was born and the conversation that happened between her and his mom. They always considered themselves the most beautiful in the group. The other poem speaks about the grief and the events that occurred after the mother to Alexie dies. The author talks of the mosquitos that suck his blood and he lets them go without killing them. In the needle and thread poem, the siblings cannot agree on if they will bury their mom with jewelry or give it to the granddaughters. In the next verse, he talks of the struggles that he faced with religion. He considers himself an atheist who doesn’t believe in the aftermath.

Sherman has his ways of coping with the loss and the thoughts of depression. From the memoir, we see that he finds his release by composing poems about his problems. The lyrics help him not become like his father or mother psychologically. He also writes books about pertinent issues that linger in his mind. When one confronts the problems that are happening in one’s life, they remain sober and able to take control of their lives.

The Native Americans have also found a way of expressing their problems by discussing their issues with the relevant authorities. Although there have been improvements in service delivery to them, more needs to be done to ensure that there are no first-class citizens and lower class citizens.

In 2015, the government didn’t provide support to forest fire victims who were majorly natives. Therefore, his basis of oppression transcends to the current political environment. There are other many occurrences that the natives feel sidelined in terms of service delivery. The book is therefore well timed and a wakeup call to all leaders of America to stop the segregation to the natives and other different races residing in the country.

The critics of the book claim that the author isn’t Native American enough to bring the complete picture that he intended to convey. They argue that he has grown up in a different time and therefore he experienced different social psychology to explain how the natives felt.


Works cited

Sherman Alexie, (2017), You don’t have to say you love me, Little Brown and company Falls apart productions, Inc. New York