Flight – A Research Paper
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Flight – A Research Paper


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Write a minimum of 5 page research paper about this book and he can pick any of the prompts in the attachment.

This research paper should have 6 credible sources (one of them must be the book itself and include quotes)


The narrator begins the novel by stating, 'my zits are me,' defining himself by his afflictions. How else does he define himself? Speculating about rock stars with 'stingy hair and greasy beard and bloodshot eyes', zits says, 'as ugly as I am, I might have been the biggest rock star in the world' (p. 2). How, as he learns in juvenile detention (p. 26), is acne a badge both of shame and poverty? How does zit's identity begin to change in the book? Does Zits seem liberated by inhabiting clean-faced people in his travels?

In the first few chapters of Alexie Sherman's Flight, Zits and zits cannot be separated from each other. The introductory lines of the novel immediately indicate Zits' struggles with his identity, which in itself is one of the key themes of the narrative. This is augmented with the fact that the character never reveals his actual name 'Michael' throughout the course of the story. He only does so in the final sentence of his narration, when he comes to terms with his own identity and liberates himself from his own afflictions.

Appearance and body image concerns are highly common amongst adolescents (Story and Stang 155), and Zits is no exception to this sentiment. It is quite evident that he wants to define his inner self by his physical appearance. His feelings of unattractiveness contribute to his low self-esteem, which is supported by his statement that he thinks he looks like 'a bag of zits tied to a broomstick' (p. 3). To cope with the same, Zits has also developed a morbid, self-directed sense of humour, be it in terms of renaming himself after his own imperfection, or by stating that his zits give him superpowers (p. 8), or by comparing them to stars and constellations (p. 3). People often resort to humour to mask their feelings or to cope with a situation that is unbearable but has to be borne all the same, (Barnard et al. 22) and Zits is a vivid example of this.


Another way that Zits defines himself is through his feeling of overwhelming shame or – as he puts it – his 'ninety-nine kinds of shame' (p. 3). The list not only includes his zits, but also the facts that he is fifteen years of age, is 'tall', 'skinny' and 'ugly'. His Native American heritage may also be one of the reasons why he feels like a pariah. Much of his journey that traverses across rest of the novel lies in overcoming this shame. Further, by drawing a comparison with rockstars, he does not define himself with any special skill or expertise, as he believes that one can compensate his ugliness with talent. On a more positive note, however, Zits can be said to take pride in his ability to pay attention to details and his bright memory (p. 2). Thus, only in the introductory pages, Alexie establishes the messy interior life of this marginalized teenager (Kirk).

After running away from another foster home and committing another set of illicit activities, Zits is sent to a juvenile detention centre. There he meets and is drawn towards the persuasive character of Justice – another rancorous renegade like him – (p. 14) who comforts him and schools him on how to take his sorry life into his own hands (Kirk). Justice enquires Zits about his excessive acne and informs him that it 'doesn't have to be like that' (p. 9) as there are a lot of medicines in the market that can cure it. At that instant, Zits comes to the realization that acne has also become a badge of shame and poverty as the medicines described by Justice cost a lot of money; thus, if a person has acne in today's world, it represents his inability to purchase such necessities. He realizes that he wants to solve his acne problem by buying the medicines as well, but is incapacitated by his empty pockets. This is supplemented by the shame that he already feels for having such a blemished appearance.

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