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The story follows Zits, a Native American trying to cope with his various past abusive adoptive parents with random acts of violence, calling himself the "time travelling mass murderer".
Sherman Alexie's take on being a homeless American Indian teenager...takes a science fiction twist, as he possesses the bodies of other men throughout time. In many ways, it was because he viewed Indian Killer as an Old Shame.
Tropes featured in Flight include:
- Abusive Foster Parents
- Boomerang Bigot: Justice, assuming it's not a Fight Club-style split personality.
- The Cassandra: Justified in one case, as he's mute.
- Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Averted: The Mexican kid's just as cruel as the others.
- Did Not Do the Research: A partial one: Most Ethiopians are Christian, and their last name isn't X. A more direct one, the "Crazy Horse's father was white" story is apocryphal.
- Eyes of Gold: Crazy Horse
- Fail O'Suckyname: Zits? Zits? Also, Helda, lampshaded by Zits
- Four Is Death: Zits' fourth leap is...into the body of a pilot who unwittingly helps an Islamic terrorist learn how to crash planes. And he's cheating on his wife.
- Fun with Acronyms: IRON and HAMMER. HAMMER doesn't actually mean anything, but IRON means Indigenous Rights Now!
- Gainax Ending: In-universe with the Ghost Dance. The ending itself has one as well.
- Going Commando: "Okay, I now know Indian boys didn't wear anything under their loincloths."
- Grand Theft Me: How Zits time travels.
- Healing Shiv: Not quite, Justice has a paint gun and an actual gun.
- Hypocrite: Abbad, a Muslim who drinks with his friend.
- Ironic Hell: Living as an FBI agent involved in making
AIMIRON activists disappear. Yeah.
- Les Collaborateurs: Horse and Elk. Ironically, they were remembered as heroes, but like anyone would believe how Zits knows.
- Loin Cloth: Standard clothing for all Sioux and Cheyenne males.
- Luke, I Am My Father
- Malcolm Xerox: Justice
- Meaningful Name: Possessed by righteous indignation and a desire for vengaence? What is Zits' real name? Michael
- Naked on Arrival: An old Indian killer likes to sleep naked, so when he wakes up, yeah.
- A Nazi by Any Other Name: The story of IRON and HAMMER is reminiscent of the story of Pine Ridge in The Seventies.
- Punch Clock Villain: The FBI agents, the Cavalry soldiers.
- Shotacon: Zits got molested by several of his foster dads. This is the only homosexual example in Alexie's work, and the only time the boy hasn't been eager.
- Shout-Out: The Nannapush Reservation is a reference to Louise Erdrich's character Lulu Nanapush.
- Steven Ulysses Perhero: Justice.
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: The whole Ethiopian Islamic terrorist story makes the man Zits possesses one.