Ten Little Indians Themes

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Self-Esteem

Running throughout this collection of stories is the central issue of self-esteem. Corliss Joseph has it, but her parents and relatives on the Spokane Indian Reservation don't ("The Search Engine"). Corliss has enough self-esteem to live alone at college because she doesn't want a roommate, but her parents' lack of self-esteem is evident in their obsessive desire for her to become "somebody" because of her college education. By that, they mean anything other than the poet she aspires to be. The poets she most admires, like W.H. Auden and Harlan Atwater, seem to have the idealized courage of self-esteem.

When Corliss meets Harlan Atwater, she realizes his self-esteem is practically nonexistent and that his ill-fated and self-published book of poetry was an attempt to gain some self-respect that failed, leaving him a reclusive, embittered old man. As she goes in search of Harlan...

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This section contains 943 words
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Buy the Ten Little Indians Study Guide
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