Flight Summary and Analysis of Chapters 7-9


Chapter 7

Zits runs toward a bright light and the sound of laughter, wondering whether he might "have become the bank guard’s bullet" now blasting through his brain (59). But he then suddenly emerges into an Indian camp, “complete with thousands of real Indian tepees and tens of thousands of real old-time Indians,” all of whom are dark-skinned and do not speak English (60). Zits is immediately repulsed by the camp's rancid smell.

He looks down at himself to realize he has become a 12 or 13 year-old Indian boy, wearing only a loincloth. A large man, decorated in war paint and carrying a tomahawk, approaches and hugs him, and Zits realizes that this man is the Indian boy's father. He is elated to actually have a father for the first time in his life.

Zits tries to greet the Indian boy's father, but realizes that the boy is mute, his voice box severed and marked by a deep scar across his throat. He wonders whether the boy was injured by disease or violence, but he is unperturbed due to his joy over having a father. It makes him wonder whether he has now been sent to heaven.

Chapter 8

As the Indian boy's father leads him through camp, Zits realizes that not only is this camp not heaven, but that these people are doomed. They will die of diseases or at the hands of the U.S. Calvary, or be relocated. Their children will be kidnapped and sent to boarding schools. They will turn to alcohol, as Zits’s own father did. Though the realization makes him furious, Zits has no voice with which to warn them.

The Indian boy’s father stops to argue with another man, the great warrior Crazy Horse. Zits is ecstatic to be near Crazy Horse “the magical one” who was legendarily immune to bullets and was never photographed (68). His body is painted with white lightning bolts, and he has gold-colored eyes. Zits is most surprised by Crazy Horse’s complexion, which is pale with light brown and blonde streaks. This means that Crazy Horse is half white, just like Zits is.

When he also sees Sitting Bull, another legendary figure, nearby, Zits realizes that he has traveled to 1876, shortly before the Battle of Little Bighorn. When he hears distant shots and the men prepare to ride, Zits remembers the outcome of the battle - General George Armstrong Custer and his seven hundred soldiers will be killed by the thousands of Indian warriors, in an event later known as “Custer’s Last Stand” (69).

Chapter 9

As a young boy, Zits is left in camp with the women and other children. Although Zits cannot see the battle from there, he knows what is happening because of a documentary he once saw on the History Channel. He explains how Custer had ignored orders and marched his men to Little Bighorn, and then attacked without waiting for reinforcements. Overwhelmed by a larger number of Indians with superior weapons, Custer's force was massacred.

After an hour, Zits hears the sounds of celebration, and knows the battle has been won. Those still in camp head up the hill, from which they see Custer and his men dead and dying throughout the field. The scene reminds Zits of the bank, and he feels sick. Though he knows that Custer had to be stopped, he is bothered to see the Indians - women and children included - desecrate the bodies by stabbing them with their own bayonets, and by cutting off their ears, hands, feet, and fingers. One grandmother severs a dead soldier's penis and puts it into his mouth so that he will be shamed in the afterlife.

When he sees a young girl digging a soldier's eyes out, Zits rushes to stop her, but is interrupted by the Indian boy's father, who drags him to the summit, where hundreds of warriors are torturing six surviving soldiers. The Indian boy’s father pushes Zits into the circle and hands him a bayonet, expecting him to kill a young white teenage soldier as revenge for his throat injury.

Zits reflects on an incident from his childhood. When he was eight-years-old, he was placed with a rich white Seattle family who initially treated him well. His perverse foster father allowed Zits to use his model train set in the basement, but one day sexually molested him there - “things that hurt. Things that made me bleed,” he explains (75).

The memory makes Zits understand the desire for revenge that the Indian boy's father wants Zits to feel. He then wonders whether he performed the Ghost Dance in the bank from revenge, for his years of loneliness.

He looks up to the top of a hill, where Crazy Horse stands alone. It makes him remember how Crazy Horse will be betrayed by his friend Little Big Man, and then killed by the bayonet of a U.S. soldier.

The Indian boy’s father yells at Zits to kill the soldier, to take revenge. Zits does not know what to do, so he closes his eyes.


Zits’s dream-like emergence toward the light in Chapter 7 illustrates Alexie’s surrealist writing style. He compares Zits’s quick steps to the passage of the bullet that “blasted through [his] brain,” thereby making explicit the connection between the Ghost Dance and the events to follow. Further, the emergence into the light evokes the passage through death into the afterlife, underscoring the moral nature of the transformations that Zits goes through.

Like in the previous transformation, this setting allows Alexie to explore Indian history and identity. Zits wonders whether this camp might be heaven, since it has given him so much of what he wants. Whereas the first transformation allowed him to live a white man's life, he here gets to have an authentic Native American identity. Not only does he get a father, but his father is also a dark-skinned Indian with great power and love. Overall, the Indian camp gives Zits a strong feeling of family, a key theme in the novel. He gains both a father and a sense of community with the camp overall. For the first time, he acknowledges, albeit unconsciously, his wish to be a full blooded Native American.

Unfortunately, this new family does not solve Zits's essential questions about violence, identity and guilt. Not only is Zits unable to speak because of the Indian boy's throat injury, but he is also unfamiliar with the language. The symbolic voicelessness could represent the voicelessness of 19th century Native Americans, or it could represent Zits's own shame, his inability to voice either the truth of his own crimes or of the suffering he has endured. Having earlier praised himself for emotional distance, this second interpretation has extra weight since it implies that a life of emotional distance has a downside. It might make Zits feel less vulnerable, but it is also one of the causes of his powerlessness. Regardless of how one interprets the voicelessness, the effect is the same: Zits cannot warn these people of their impending doom. He is indeed powerless.

Yet again, Zits initially defines identity in terms of appearance. He remarks that there are no “half-breed pale-beige green-eyed Indians” in the camp, and considers these Indians as more authentic than others because of their dark skin. There are no complications of mixed identities, like that which Zits usually grapples with. That is, until he realizes that Crazy Horse is also a "half-breed." This calls his assumptions about identity and appearance into question, since this Indian hero is not a pure-blooded Native American. Yet again, Zits confronts the fact that the world is less clear-cut than he had thought.

Finally, this transformation continues to explore the theme of violence. Though the battle is not described, it is quite famous for its viciousness. However, what is doubly vicious is the desecration that Zits observes. In many ways, he is seeing what he might have wanted to see before his transformations: triumphant Indians punishing aggressive white men. However, the reality of war and violence is far harder for him to stomach, especially when he realizes that many of the soliders are around his age.

This section ends with a markedly different choice from those of the previous two. In both the Ghost Dance and as Hank, Zits chose to fire a gun. In the second case, he had grown and felt guilty about it, but fired nevertheless. In this transformation, Zits begins to realize that he has a choice. Though he does not actively refuse to attack the soldier, he abstains by closing his eyes.

By describing the sexual abuse Zits suffered, Alexie accomplishes two things. First, he reaffirms the novel's social perspective on real-world issues. More importantly, he gives us a reason to sympathize with Zits should he choose to attack the white soldier. If we understood the attack as an expression of a sexually molested boy's anger and shame, we might sympathize even if we do not condone it. Therefore, when Zits chooses not to let his revenge control him, the victory is all the more powerful. Zits is not only learning to express the reality of his suffering (as opposed to shutting himself off, as he has previously done), but he is more importantly learning that he can confront his pain without letting it lead him to unjust violence.