Flight Time Travel As Character Essay

Total Length: 1228 words ( 4 double-spaced pages)

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As Alexie himself recalls, this was truly the character -- or perhaps the concept, and the idea -- that truly germinated into the full novel. The author heard an interview with the flight instructor of one of the men responsible for the September 11th terrorist attacks, and the sense of personal betrayal that this real-life flight instructor felt was made palpable for Zits just as it was made perfectly clear and intriguing to Alexie (NPR 2007). Zits learns that no act of violence is complete in and of itself, and that it does not only make large statements, but instead that some of its most important and lasting effects are deeply personal and often unpredictable. Violence is inherently a lack of control, and so one cannot control its effects nor limit them simply to the people that the violence directly affects.

The last personality that Zits occupies is that of his own father. He does not realize this immediately; Zits has never met his father, and all he knows when the transformation occurs is that he is in the modern day, is drunk, and is sick. A young couple that finds him vomiting blood tries to help him, "But I can't control my emotions. My fears," Zits reflects, and he -- or the body that he occupies -- runs away (p. 135). It is his recognition of his own fear and his own inability to control himself that begins to make a final impression on Zits and lead him to the realization that he has been seeking a place to assign blame for his anger, and that he has viewed violence as a means of correcting the unfairness and imbalance in his life.


Zits begins his adventure in this book on the brink of committing a horrific act of violence.
After being transported back in time to the position of an FBI agent -- an assassin, really -- he begins to realize the fear that violence comes form, and the increased fear and violence that it leads to. Seeing through the eyes of a flight instructor who unwittingly provides a terrorist with the knowledge and skills he needs to inflict an even larger act of violence on others, Zits comes to realize the personal side of violence and the betrayal that such violence creates, as well as the impossibility of removing human connections from our actions. Finally, seeing through the eyes of his own dying father, Zits learns that anger and violence are often simply outgrowths of frustrations with ourselves, and that at some point personal responsibility must overtake fear in an individual's response to the world.

Through all of these lessons, Zits learns that violence is not isolated and cannot be negated or corrected by further violence. Ultimately, whether or not Zits has actually experienced everything that is contained in the novel and what his future holds is left somewhat ambiguous, but it is certain that he has been profoundly affected by his experiences whether real or imagined. he has matured, and has learned to look to himself and his connections to others for answers, and has also learned to acknowledge that these connections exist. We can all learn a valuable lesson in this -- no one is truly alone, no matter how much it seems that way, and this has both positive and negative consequences.


Alexie, S. (2007). Flight. New York: Grove Press.

NPR. (2007). "Author Sherman Alexie talks 'Flight.'" Accessed 22 November 2010.


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