The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

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by martinjakemoore
Last updated 5 years ago

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The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

"You've been fighting since you were born," he said. "You fought off that brain surgery. You fought off those seizures. You fought off all the drunks and drug addicts. You kept your hope. And now, you have to take your hope and go somewhere where other people have hope."I was starting to understand. He was a math teacher. I had to add my hope to somebody else's hope. I had to multiply my hope."Where is hope?" I asked. "Who has hope?" "Son," Mr. P said. "You're going to find more and more hope the farther and farther you walk away from this sad, sad, sad reservation." (Alexie 43).

Falling - HaimNow we're going down,And I can feel the eyes are watching us so closely ohI'm trying not to make a sound'Cause I'll be found out somehowSo keep calling,Don't stop, no, I'll never give upAnd I'll never look back, just hold your head upAnd if it gets rough, it's time to get roughThey keep sayingDon't stop, no it's never enoughI'll never look back, never give upAnd if it gets rough, it's time to get roughBut now I'm fallingInto the fire feeling higher than the truthI can feel the heat but I'm not burning

“… we reservation Indians don’t get to realize our dreams. We don’t get those chances. Or choices. We’re just poor. That’s all we are. Its sucks to be poor, and it sucks to feel that you somehow deserve to be poor. You start believing that you’re poor because you’re stupid and ugly. And then you start believing that you’re stupid and ugly because you’re Indian. And because you’re Indian you start believing you’re destined to be poor. It’s an ugly circle and there’s nothing you can do about it.” (Alexie 13).

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time IndianSherman Alexie

Junior mentions how he sometimes goes hungry because of his family's financial situation like many other Indians, and craves extra crispy, origional recipie KFC chicken.

For Junior basketball was an outlet not only for him to just have fun but to escape the struggles of his everyday life, that always seem to be built around keeping him from succeeding.

As Junior starts attending his new mostly white school in Reardan, he is seen as a misfit, a foreigner: The violence, poverty, and alcoholism have no place here.

Junior grew up a Wellpinit Redskin and met his lifelong friend, Rowdy, there, but also enduredmany beatings and years of torment making him resilient enough to face the challenges that would soon come his way.

"Everybody on the rez calls me a retard about twice a day. They call me retard when they are pantsing me or stuffing my head in the toilet or just smacking me upside the head.I'm not even writing down this story the way I actually talk, because I'd have to fill with stutters and lisps, and then you'd be wondering why you're reading a story written by such a retard.Do you know what happens to retards on the rez?We get beat up.At least once a month.Yep, I belong to the Black-Eye-of-the-Month Club.Sure I want to go outside. Every kid wants to go outside. But it's safer to stay at home. So I mostly hang out alone in my bedroom and read books and draw cartoons." (Alexie 4).

A loss is not always an end.

B- Junior endures a lot living on the reservation, but will endure even more when he decides to leave Wellpinit high (pictured) and start attending Reardan 22 miles away. Its hard enough that his family is poor and he often hitch-hiked his way to school on an empty stomach dreaming of Kentucky Fried Chicken, but now he was catching grief from all the Indians on the reservation calling him a traitor for his pursuit of better education. Since he still lived on the reservation, but attended Reardan he still had to interact with his Indian neighbors who turned against him and singled him out. While at Wellpinit he played basketball, but was never all that great, however he finds new strength playing at Reardan where he becomes a top player. Basketball was a means of channeling Junior’s anger and pent up emotions towards the reservation.

Sure Junior has Rowdy and maybe his family but other than that he is alone on the reservation, he is not like the other Indian boys and often suffers for it.

E- Throughout the book Junior endures much loss. Not just death though, he losses his friend when decides to start attending Reardan, and even struggles with his identity on and off the reservation. In Haim’s song Falling they tell about moving on and never looking back even when times get rough, which directly correlates with juniors situation. He lives on the reservation and wants to stay connected with his neighbors and rowdy even though they reject him. He tries his hardest not to let it affect him, and continues to press on in Reardan doing well in school and making new friends.

Click here for an interactive map of actual locations mentioned in the book.

F- Alcoholism, Violence, and poverty are common elements of not only Indians on the Spokane reserve, but in many other Indian reserves. We see in the news broadcast and short documentary that people are trying to combat these issues but so far little progress has been made. Living in a household where you have little to eat and the parents spend their last dimes on alcohol can be damaging in the present and in the future. Junior experienced these same things in his tribe: His dad would often disappear for days on a drunken bar hopping spree. Junior attended multiple funerals for people who died an alcohol related death, so many so that he couldn’t count them on his fingers and toes.

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