Innocent Vs. Guilty: The Effects of Trauma in Sherman Alexie’s Indian Killer

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Dr. N. SaraswathyAntharjanam


In the 1990s, literary scholars began to approach literature using the framework of trauma theory. This lens illuminates the effects of extreme violence in literature and allows critics to explore how these effects unfold for victims in the years after the traumatic events themselves. In this article, the researcher discusses Sherman Alexie’s novel Indian Killer which diverges from the conventional responses to trauma found in the works of trauma literature by portraying a victim who becomes the perpetrator of trauma or violence himself. The use of violence in Indian Killer underlines the importance of the message that violence only for violence's sake will never change the world for the better. Moreover, the justification of brute forces highlights the suppressed anger of Native Americans against their past and the importance of the hybridization of the natives and the whites. The main theme of Indian Killer seems to be expressing rage through violent acts. In general, violence is depicted as inevitable for both cultures to pursue their beliefs and as an expression of their feelings. It comes from racist thinking not only from the whites against the Indians but also inverse racism from the Indians against the whites. This paper aims to look into the use of violence in this novel from different perspectives of the whites, the  Indians, and the killer and to analyse the different dimensions of violent acts.


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