parallel between Zits and Gregor Samsa in Kafka's "The Metamorphosis" is that both individuals are alienated being -- alienated from their bodies and their society. One day, Gregor Samsa awakes to find himself transformed into a gigantic cockroach. Zits, like many adolescents, one day awakes to find himself in a body he feels that is not his own. Zits feels alienated from his body because of what he regards as his physical repulsiveness (his zits) and his 'half breed' appearance -- as well as the fact that he discovers he has the ability to travel through time and physically assume the persona of other individuals.
As with Zits, Gregor's subsequent misery is not solely due to his physically transformed state. Gregor's captivity is also manifest in the fact that he is working himself to death at a miserable job to support his family and sister. After he 'changes' his family casts him off, like a pariah. Although Zits feels ugly, the reason he is so filled with self-loathing is because he has been treated like a piece of human garbage, shuttled from foster home to foster home, and he has experienced racism because he is a Native American. And like Gregor, his physical transformation teaches him about his real place in society. Zits learns about the limits of his perspective; Gregor learns about how his family really feels about him.
Q2. Zits takes on the persona of a Native American fighting for liberation at the Battle of Little Big Horn, as well as an FBI agent and an Indian tracker persecuting Native Americans. He also images himself as a flight instructor and his own father. Zits identifies with people who are fighters or who are oppressed because he is a member of a historically discriminated-against group and also because he feels powerless. As a young boy who has been subjected to abuse, he wants to find a way out of his current life, and is uncertain as to how to express his anger other than through violence and through fantasy. In many of his fantasies, like when he imagines himself as an airline pilot, flying to freedom through the skies, he has powers he does not have in real life.
Another interesting facet of Zits' fantasies is that he is often on the side of the persecutors of Native Americans, not the persecuted. This is part of his fantasy of empowerment, and the only way he knows to 'be' empowered is to be white. "I don't know any other Native Americans, except the homeless Indians who wander around downtown Seattle. . . . Of course, those wandering Indians are not the only Indians in the world, but they're the only ones who pay attention to me" (Alexie 7). When he is a Native American in his fantasy life he is a child, or like his father -- homeless and drunk, picking through the garbage on the streets. However, he learns from all of his incarnations: he sees how like his father, he has been trying to escape reality and responsibility through alcohol, and sharply perceives how many 'have-nots' there are in the world (like himself and his father), who are used in the service of the 'haves.' and, because of the various twists and turns of fate, Zits also learns not all of the powerful people whom he inhabits have absolute authority. The flight instructor accidentally, through no fault of his own, teaches a terrorist who uses his skills to kill people. Even the Indian 'tracker' shows compassion to Native Americans.
Q3. Zits had been abandoned by all of the parental figures in his life. This has made him angry and disenchanted with society. The more he is rejected, the more defensive he becomes, saying 'whatever' to 'whatever' comes his way. If he does not care, and acts angry and violent, he believes this will protect him from becoming physically and also emotionally vulnerable. While Zits has a reason to be angry, his anger has turned into a self-reflexive mechanism that is doing him harm, and further alienates him from the possibility of finding love, education, and a job, and not becoming like the stereotypical Indian of the Seattle streets. He begins the novel alienated from his Indian identity -- while treated like an Indian, he has lived with white families because his mother never allowed her son to be 'officially' classified as an Indian.
Q4. Zits is forgiven for his transgressions, such as his petty acts of juvenile delinquency and also his fantasy of shooting up a bank. He envisions himself enacting a bloody revenge upon the world, but eventually decides not to do so, forgiving the world because of what he has learned through his travels. Because people see him as being able to be redeemed, he is redeemed. As people treat him more kindly, Zits begins to behave more kindly towards others. He is also able to look upon his father with greater compassion, and forgive the man for some of the things he did to Zits.
Q5a. Despite the fact that he puts on a tough persona, Zits learns this about himself: he is very vulnerable. When flying an airplane as a pilot, as well as feeling powerful sailing across the sky, Zits also realizes: "I miss my mother…I miss her all the time. I want to see her again. And now here I am in the body of a pilot as he flies. It makes sense. The last time my mother was happy she was on an airplane. So maybe this is my last place to be happy" (Alexie 109).
Q5b. Zits learns to be more tolerant of the foibles of other people. At the beginning of the novel, because he has been abandoned so many times, he judges others very harshly, as he has been judged. But after seeing the world through the perspectives of other people, he gradually begins to understand that everyone has their own struggles and subjectivity. He also learns that the humanity of other people, which is equal to his own, so he cannot engage in a shoot-out and think of the people he will kill as faceless cartoon characters.
Q5c. Zits learns that he must strive to make a new family. He misses his mother, and still loves her, but he cannot live in the past. Although his father abandoned him, he was suffering many of the same types of problems that Zits had, regarding his self-worth. Zits also realizes that his father was very afraid: because he was afraid that he could not be a good father to his son, his father abandoned the family.
Q5d. During the episodes in which Zits plays an FBI agent and later an Indian tracker, he suddenly feels a stab of compassion for the Indians he is about to kill. His assumption of these personas suggests the violence Zits feels for his Native American father, and also subconsciously for himself. They also suggest Zits' desire to be a person in power who has control over others, rather than is controlled by adults. However, Zits feels compassion, even when taking on these identities. When he is a native child, at the Battle of Little Big Horn, he comes to be filled with a tragic sense that his people will be swept away onto reservations, even though this battle was a scene of triumph for natives.
Q5e. Zits learns that being a Native American does not mean that he has to be 'like' his father. Native American identity is multifaceted and complex. Sometimes Indians are vulnerable, as in the case of the mute Indian child and the child rescued by a soldier, both of whom he encounters on his travels. In other instances, however, Indians have been powerful warriors. Indians can be both treacherous and good, and they are not better or worse than white people, as individuals, even though as a race they have been persecuted.
Q5f. Zits learns the limitations of his own perspective. At the beginning of the novel, he is confident that he can see right through people, like the foster families who treated him so cruelly. Eventually, he decides: "I think all the people in this bank are better than I am. They have better lives than I do. Or maybe they don't. Maybe we're all lonely. Maybe some of them also hurtle through time and see war, war, war. Maybe we're all in this together" (Alexie 158)
Q5g. Zits learns that he cannot judge himself based upon the way he is treated by others. Just because his father abandoned him does not mean that he, Zits, is evil. His father's abandonment and his mistreatment at the hands of other reveals his father's character, not his own. Zits also learns that he is not the only person who was ever abandoned. The child of the Indian warrior at the Battle of Little Big Horn is treated coolly by his father, and is emotionally distant from his harsh…