101 pages 3 hours read

Sherman Alexie

The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven

Fiction | Short Story Collection | Adult | Published in 1993

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more. For select classroom titles, we also provide Teaching Guides with discussion and quiz questions to prompt student engagement.


The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven

  • Genre: Fiction; short story collection
  • Originally Published: 1993
  • Reading Level/Interest: College/Adult
  • Structure/Length: 24 stories; approx. 242 pages
  • Protagonist/Central Conflict: In 24 interconnected short stories, readers follow two young men and the vivid characters they live with on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Longwinded storyteller Thomas Builds-the-Fire and his sometimes friend Victor Joseph, who is a recovering alcoholic, narrate their relationships and histories and dreams in stories that fuse narrative, diary entries, and prose poems with Alexie’s signature usage of dream sequences, surrealism, and flashbacks. In stories filled with humor and sorrow, Thomas and Victor show that there are no gaps between the past and present.
  • Potential Sensitivity Issues: Racism; genocide; substance abuse and addiction; violence; sexual harassment. While Indigenous people self-identify in various ways, non-Indigenous students should be instructed to use the specific tribal name or “Indigenous” when referring to Indigenous people. Additionally, it is worth noting that Sherman Alexie was accused of sexual harassment in 2018 and later issued an apology, described in this article from NPR. Teachers may consider addressing this with students before reading Alexie’s work and possibly facilitate a discussion about the tensions that sometimes exist between an artist, their work, and their actions and behaviors.