Flight Summary and Analysis of Chapters 10-12


Chapter 10

Zits opens his eyes to the sound of a reveille, to find he is in a tent with a dozen other empty cots. It is morning, so he assumes everyone else is eating breakfast or preparing for battle. He hears yelling and rushes outside, where 100 19th century U.S. Calvary soldiers laugh at him. He looks down to realize he is naked.

Moreover, he realizes he has become an old man. Embarrassed, he limps back into the tent and changes into his uniform. His joints hurt, and his fingers do not work well. He considers his arthritis a punishment from God, and wonders whether his journey through time is his own personal punishment for the bank shooting.

After dressing, he returns outside to find the other soldiers standing in formation. Not knowing where he belongs, he tries to squeeze in between two young soldiers, but a short man with a large mustache calls out to him. Zits learns that the old man's name is Gus, and that he speaks with an Irish accent. He amuses himself by thinking, “Maybe I am finally Irish” (84).

General Mustache introduces Gus to the soldiers as a war hero and a skilled Indian tracker. General Mustache further tells the solders how twenty-five settlers were attacked and murdered by Indians, and how Gus has found the Indian camp near the Colorado River and will lead the soldiers there to take revenge.

Sickened, Zits plans to lead the soldiers astray, to get them lost in the woods. However, as they ride along, Zits find he has less control of this body than he did of the other ones. Additionally, as Gus competently leads the men despite Zits's intentions, Zits finds himself seeing the old man's memories. He sees the corpses of the white settlers, mutilated and naked. He remembers the body of a little girl with three arrows embedded in her stomach. She was the only one whom the attackers left clothed, probably to preserve her innocence.

Infused with Gus’s grief and rage over the massacre, Zits leads the soldiers to the Indian camp. As he sees Gus's memory of the dead's girl mother crawling towards her daughter's body, he cries out and leads the soldiers down a hill toward the camp.

Chapter 11

“This is what revenge can do to you,” Zits explains about leading the charge (88). However, as he rushes down the hill, Gus's rage recedes. Zits tosses his rifle away, meaning he charges into battle unarmed. He wants himself and Gus to die, but the Indian warriors who charge them are mostly boys and have few rifles, so are no match for the well-armed soldiers. Most of the Indians are killed right away, and the soldiers, Zits included, rush into the camp.

There, some of the women and old men prepare to defend themselves with bows and arrows. One boy, about five-years-old, tries to shoot an arrow, but the string bloodies his hand. Zits is concerned about this boy (whom he calls Bow Boy) as he witnesses other atrocities, including the trampling of an old woman and the breaking of a girl's skull. Meanwhile, General Mustache targets anyone who tries to run into the woods. When Zits’s horse is hit with a stray bullet, he is thrown into the air.

He lands painfully on the ground, and sees Bow Boy fleeing a soldier, who is only sixteen or so. When Zits tries to rush to the boy's aid, he collapses, believing that observing the boy's death is meant as punishment for the bank atrocity. Surprisingly, as the young soldier (whom he calls Small Saint) catches Bow Boy, he picks up the boy and runs with him into the woods. Zits limps toward a horse and discarded rifle, intending to help Small Saint and Bow Boy.

General Mustache has his pistol aimed towards Small Saint, but Zits smashes his rifle into General Mustache’s face and then chases after them, soldiers soon on his trail. Inside of his body, Gus struggles to turn Zits around, but Zits triumphs and keeps the body moving. When he catches up to Small Saint and Bow Boy, he pulls them onto the horse, and they plow ahead. Luckily, the horse outpaces the soldiers who are on their trail.

Chapter 12

Zits’s adrenaline eventually runs low, and he feels Gus's age in the body. Suddenly, his back seizes up and he falls from the horse, breaking one of his ribs. After a moment, the pain recedes. He sees Bow Boy clinging to Small Saint, and remembers how he once clung similarly to anyone who showed him affection when he was a child. Small Saint wants to keep moving, but Zits is too tired and hurt.

At Small Saint’s insistence, they eventually press onwards. However, the soldiers are closing in on them. Zits asks Small Saint why he saved the boy, and the teenager answers that he joined the military to defend people. Impressed and moved, Zits thinks he will never be as good as Small Saint is.

The soldiers come nearer, and Zits falls again, his back pain too immense for him to continue. However, he insists that Small Saint continue onwards to save Bow Boy. Eventually, they comply, leaving Zits behind.

Zits positions his pained body against a log and aims towards the tree line, planning to buy time for Small Saint. He notices that his journey started with the murder of strangers, and perhaps will end with the killing of soldiers . He wonders whether God differentiates between types of killing.

The soldiers arrive, General Mustache in the front, covered in bloody bandages. Zits suddenly finds it harder to pull the trigger than he had hoped, and he weeps and screams. Then, he closes his eyes.


Gus is a polar opposite to the Indian boy, in terms of experience, race, and age. He now engages his Irish identity where he had before engaged his pure Indian identity, and has both the wisdom and training of age. However, he has issues with this identity as well. He is ashamed by the pain brought by old age, and finds himself compelled towards slaughter.

Though Alexie's and Zits's sympathies are obviously with the Native Americans, the question of violence has been significantly complicated by this point in the novel. Everyone has shown themselves capable of atrocity. By viewing it from so many distinctive viewpoints, Zits is realizing that any people can justify hatred and murder of another people if conditions are bad enough.

Zits realizes the power of rage when Gus's anger overpowers Zits's agency while they share the soldier's body. When he tries to change Gus's path, he is overcome by the memories of atrocities committed by the Native Americans. General Mustache's speech - in which he calls for the “swift and deadly blow of justice” - puts Zits in a situation parallel to that which started his journey. He is controlled by anger and hatred, and directed by a charismatic figure (Justice in the early chapters, General Mustache here). However, the repeated patterns now pose Zits with questions about justice and revenge, and whether there is any distinction between atrocious acts of violence.

Partly, the lack of control is an effective way for Alexie to expose Zits to violence without making him complicit for it. He sees the most vicious acts yet committed, including rape and the murder of innocents. For the first time, he gets a sense of how the bank murders must appear to the outside world, to someone outside his own perspective. More than ever before, right in front of his face, he must confront the truth of what he he has done. The more intense descriptions here reflect that he actually observes these murders, whereas he was earlier blind to what he had done.

In the midst of this self-realization, he is given a chance to commit a small act of kindness. In contrast to his own sin, he confronts the example of Small Saint, who acts solely out of a sense of duty and instinctive kindness. In this way, Small Saint evokes Office Dave, both of whom Zits admires partly because he does not believe himself capable of their goodness.

We realize how he has grown because he now observes the possibility that he too can aim at goodness. In his previous transformation, Zits learns that he can make decisions, and he here learns to see the truth of atrocity or kindness for what it is. Where he before has ignored Office Dave's example, he here is inspired by Small Saint to push his body to its limits to protect Bow Boy. In fact, one can interpret the limits of arthritis as a symbol of Zits's emotional defenses. In order to perform kindness, he must open himself to emotions, much as Gus must push through the pain in his joints. And as a result, he achieves greater results. In the previous transformation, he abstained from violence, but did not actively resist it. Here, he is ready to die in order to prohibit it from happening any further.