Flight identifies both with Indian Killer and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian. Flight’s violent plot line is very much like the horror readers experience in the story of Indian Killer at the same time, the main character experiences a ton of growth through his visions of horrible violence. Again, Sherman Alexie does much of the characterization through dialogue since the main character is often jumping time periods and does not know the people from history who surround him.
A theme from Flight is the realization that no person is entirely evil. Our main character, Zits, begins the story completely evil. He’s an arsonist, a drunk, a runaway, and a fighter. Yet, after he is brainwashed into shooting up a bank full of people he begins jumping through time into other people’s bodies to time periods of great violence. He finds as he travels along that he just can’t hurt the people that the body he’s in is supposed to hurt. He just wants the violence to stop. When he finally ends up back in his own body he sees that he hasn’t killed anyone yet. He just leaves, turns himself in, and is set up for a new happy and peaceful life.
When Zits is transported into the body of a Cavalry soldier’s body we begin to see a major transformation in his character. Through the talk of the other soldiers he finds out that his name is Gus and he is one of the best Indian trackers in history. To his horror he is supposed to lead the 100 soldiers to a camp of Indians and slaughter them. Not wanting to murder anyone Zits tries to guide this new body around in circles and get lost but he ends up stumbling upon the camp anyway. When they appear on the ridge Zits sees the ravaged bodies of white men and women and Gus begins filling his mind with thoughts of anger towards the Indians who killed them. They rush down the hill towards the camp but as they get closer and closer to the Indians Zits realizes that he does not want to kill them and he does not want revenge. This is a major step for him because since the beginning of the novel Zits is constantly talking about how he intends to wrong all who have wronged him in the past and even those who haven’t done anything for one day they might. He refuses to fight and although the battle is still going on around him he notices a young white soldier scooping up an Indian child and running away. When the other soldiers notice the deserters they shoot at the young soldier and Zits decides that he will not see another death of a good doer. He rides after the soldier he’s named Small Saint and the child, Bow Boy. He uses Gus’s old body to pull them up onto his horse and ride into the woods. Eventually, his body quits and he falls off the horse. He tells the two escapees to go on without him and sacrifices himself to the approaching army. This is indeed a major change for Zits. He never does anything nice for anyone and yet, here not only is he being kind but he is sacrificing his own life for two strangers. His valor and sudden sense of morals gives help to support him through out the rest of the novel right up until the very end when he is finally transported into his own body.
The conflict is mainly a case of man versus society. The book begins with the main character, a delinquent, who is constantly put down by society due to his refusal to conform. In fact if one names any street crime, Zits is probably guilty of it. Once he begins his time travel, the conflict stays the same although the character begins to change. Suddenly, Zits is no longer the criminal although every one around him begins to expect a crime. He realizes that this is not the life he wants to life anymore and once he is returned to his own time he quits his old ways and begins to behave as society expects one to.