Author’s style essay: sherman alexie

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The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian and other short stories

The reason one writes isn't the fact he wants to say something. He writes because he has something to say.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald

Every piece of literature is composed of words, phrases, and clauses. Pieces of literature may even talk about the same basic themes or events. What sets these pieces apart is the particular language that they use. Kelly Byrne Bull contends that ‘Examining the author's style of writing enables readers to look closely at particular literary elements to consider how the writer crafted the story.’” (from

Style in literature is the literary element that describes the ways that the author uses words. The author’s word choice, sentence structure, figurative language, and sentence arrangements all work together to establish mood, images, and meaning in the text. Style describes how the author portrays events, objects, and ideas. In this essay, you will analyze the writing style of author Sherman Alexie. You must come up with a thesis about his writing style and speculate on the purpose of his style.
Elements of author style you can analyze:

  • Syntax

  • Pace

  • Diction

  • Figurative Language

  • Dialogue

  • Point of View

  • Tone

  • Mood

  • Allusions

  • Illustrations

  • Characterization

Questions to consider:

  • How does Alexie use language to lead readers, whose lives may be very different from his own, to such a keen understanding of the life and circumstances of Native Americans?

  • What do Alexie’s humor, irony, and sarcasm add to a reader’s experience?

  • What disparities are there between tone and mood of Alexie’s works? How does word choice affect the tone and the mood? What is the purpose of using tone and mood? What is the effect on the audience?

  • What are the most salient elements of his style? What does this tell us about the author?

  • How does style reflect how Alexie feels about the topics he is writing about?


  • You must refer to the following texts:

  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

  • 2 other works of Alexie’s - your choice (poem or short story)

  • 1 other source (biography, interview, critical article, or another pre-approved source)

  • Name:


  • Thesis:____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  • Texts being used:___________________________________________________________________________________

  • _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  • Below, sketch an outline idea for how you will proceed with your essay. What elements are you analyzing, which texts will you mention in which paragraphs?

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