Parenthood: Flight Patterns Essay

Submitted By sarita27
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Sarah Diaz
Mr. Odegaard
English 101
March 2, 2015

In the story "Flight Patterns", Sherman Alexie unravels a man's mind­set and showcases

his new appreciation for his life. William, a husband and father, encounters a taxi driver named
Fekadu on his way to one of his many business trips. Approaching the airport, they begin to have a deep conversation in which they openly share about their families. Fekadu then enlightens
William with his unfortunate circumstances causing him to reexamine his life. Alexie uses characterization, irony, and epiphany to demonstrate the importance of knowing when to put family over one's career. The characterization in "Flight Patterns" displays how disciplined William is with himself, which encourages him to be the best parent he can be. He exercises daily and had previously participated in a triathlon. Often times William will find himself unable to fall asleep, but when “his doctor had offered him sleeping­pill prescriptions [ he chose to] declined for philosophical reasons”(Alexie 55). In other words, William is prepared to have countless nights of exhaustion solely for what he believes in and cherishes. This helps illustrates his willingness to suffer in order to be the best man he can be. As a result of his self­control, he is very self critical. Throughout the story, he questions his every thought to ensure he wouldn't come off as offensive. He even doubts his fatherhood as his daughter "[takes] his face into her eyes and studie[s] his eyes" just before he leaves to the airport (Alexie 57). The intimacy between the two

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is strong and in some way this is her form of communicating her need for her dad. The last thing she wants is her father to leave and the same goes for William. However do to his discipline he choses to go.

As well as characterization, irony exposes the preconceptions that William had made

about Fekadu, even those they share the longing to have their families alongside them. William's first impression of the driver was that he was poorly educated and a violent man; do to his occupation and the large scar that goes down his face. In reality these presumptions were not true. In fact, they have more in common than one would think. For example, they both spend a lot of time missing their families do to the career path they have chosen. Being a defected soldier of Ethiopia, Fekadu made a decision to leave his country at a moment's notice because he could no longer kill his own people. He describes "kiss[ing his] wife and sons goodbye that morning . .
. [knowing] they had no idea where [he] was going"(Alexie 65). His career had taken everything away from him, including his house, family, and place of origin. Now he is forced to live his days regretting he had let ambition separate his family from himself. Perhaps William will acquire the same fate and will hear the same words he has uttered “How long has it been since you've talked to your family? ”(Alexie 66 ). The longer time goes by and he is off on business trips causes him to miss out on valuable time his wife and daughter will hold on to for the rest of their lives. Leaving a very good chance that he will wake up one day and realize he doesn't even know his own family anymore.

Lastly, epiphany where William sees that he has been putting work over family.This is

represented by the phone call William made to his wife right before he flew on the plane. Often times people are so busy that they lose track of what motivates them. When William first entered