Sherman Alexie’s “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian”, a book about Arnold Spirit, a Native American teenager, shares his life story. He grew up in the Reservation with his parents and sister Mary, a monk. His grandmother is also a frequent conversation partner. Junior was born prematurely with cerebral fluid buildup in his brain. This causes a stuttering and lisping child. It also means that he has severe vision problems and needs big, dark-rimmed glasses. For any reason, he is beaten every day by Native Americans. He lives with his family in extreme poverty. His life is filled with violence, alcoholism and drug addiction. The school was designed to help Indians like him fail and give-up hope. Junior doesn’t feel fulfilled by his life. He’s so poor. But he finds a way to live with others. Reardon is the school he switched to, and he is now considered a traitor. Arnold is a hero for his people. His tribe has called him a “traitor”, but he is the only Indian to leave his reservation in order to fulfill his dream. Arnold Spirit begins by describing himself as a “stuttering Hydrocephalic living in an impoverished Indian Reservation where he was regularly bullied, beaten up” 1-15). His parents, sister and best friend are alcoholics. Junior uses the term “Indian” for himself and other Spokane Natives. He doesn’t explain why he uses the term Indian over Native American. You could say that Indian is simpler. This is due in part to his tendency to stereotype people. Junior might use homophobic language when communicating with Rowdy (or Rowdy’s dad) who have such language as the norm. This suggests that his tribe does not like him. Junior is insane, is what the author wants to convey. Junior’s teacher, Mr. P, said that all the kids had given up. He then replied, “All your friends.” All the bullies. Their mothers and fathers too. Their grandparents were there before them. And every teacher on the res. We’re all lost,” Mr. P was saying. Mr. P was crying. You will not quit. “You threw that Book in my Face because some part of you refuses to give up. They’re going going to Kill You, I’m Going to Kill You, We’re All Going to Kill You.” “You can’t fight us forever”. “I don’t want anyone to fight me,” I said. He replied that he had been fighting since birth. You overcame those seizures. You defeated all drug addicts and drunks. You didn’t lose your faith. Your hope was never lost. 43, Alexie, Sherman). This suggests that Arnold is talented and has potential, which is likely why Mr. P said so to him.
Junior also asked his parents the question, “Who is most hopeful?” Then Arnold replied, “I want Reardon.” 43). This proves Mr. P right. The people of the reservation aren’t willing to try. They just accept their mistakes and live with them like Junior’s parents. Although his father could have been a professional jazz musician, and his mother could have been a teacher or lawyer, they decided that they were only dreams. The thesis is that Junior, despite being beaten up and living in a racist environment, has never lost hope. This is the connection to the next point.
Junior wants to make a difference in his own life, not the lives of others. Rowdy punches Junior when Junior tells others he’s moving to Reardon. Rowdy doesn’t punch Junior. This shows that he is strong and will continue to go no matter what the tribe does. Junior will experience the joy of persevering and not giving in to despair. Otherwise, he will live a sad life. His father hugging him and saying “This is a wonderful thing…You’re such a brave man, you’re an ally”
His father is proud and admires him for his achievements in school, hope and being able to do what he couldn’t.
Junior is not like his tribe. He dreams big and wants to reach them. Junior never gives up, which leads to the final point. Junior stereotypes everyone at the beginning of the book. But later in the book, he realizes that not every Indian is successful. Junior’s development from the beginning to his end is evident. He talks to Gordy in the middle and states, “Some Indians believe you must act white to improve your life.” Some Indian’s believe that you can make your life easier if the goal is to be successful. “Wouldn’t that be true? Then why wouldn’t all whites be successful?” (pg. 131). Another example is when a teacher mentions something negative about Junior and Natives. The class then leaves. He states that “I used believe the world was divided by tribes by black people & women but it’s not true.” The world is divided into 2 tribes. 176). This means that Junior’s way of thinking has changed from his old way.
The novel concludes with Rowdy asking Arnold for a game of one-on one basketball. Rowdy begins understanding and accepting Juniors choice to leave the reservation. Arnold tells him about an old Indian tribe he’d read about. Rowdy believes Arnold has a lot of similarities to these nomads.
Rowdy also shares with Arnold his dream in which Arnold was standing on China’s Great Wall. Rowdy told Arnold that he was happy to see him in his dream. Arnold weeps. Arnold has not only accepted himself, Rowdy also tries to understand Arnold’s new self.