The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Essay
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Adolescents experience a developmental journey as they transition from child to adult, and in doing so are faced with many developmental milestones. Physical, cognitive, social and emotional changes are occurring during this tumultuous stage of life, and making sense of one’s self and identity becomes a priority. Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian addresses the challenges of adolescence in an engaging tale, but deals with minority communities and cultures as well.
Establishing an identity has been called one of the most important milestones of adolescent development (Ruffin, 2009). Additionally, a central part of identity development includes ethnic identity (ACT for Youth, 2002). While some teens search…show more content…
Not only is Junior unpopular and alienated, but the victim of taunts and bullying as well. Furthermore, he’s considered a traitor after he transfers to Reardon. At Reardon, he’s called names and endures racial jokes until he finally finds acceptance through basketball and surprisingly finds friends with similar interests. Ultimately, Junior comes to the “huge realization” that not only does he belong to the Spokane Indian tribe, but to no less than 13 additional groups (Basketball players, cartoonists, bookworms, and sons to name a few). It is the first time he knows that he will be “OK”, sending a positive message to readers that identify with his struggles. By reading about characters similar to themselves, young adults can see that their challenges are not unique and are shared by other adolescents (Bucher & Hinton, 2009)
Junior’s discovery of identity and place within his world is a predominant theme in the novel and one with which teens can relate; however, several other young adult characteristics and developmental issues are addressed as well. Junior and his peers are experiencing a time of rapid physical, hormonal and cognitive development as are the most likely readers of the book. Like many adolescent girls, Penelope is concerned with her body appearance and popularity. She is a bulimic attempting to keep up her “pretty and smart and popular” (108) image. Junior is concerned with appearances in a more internal way - hiding his
“I have to prove that I am stronger than everybody else. I have to prove that I will never give up. I will never quit playing hard.” pg (132). Junior is an intelligent Native American teenager that wishes for nothing more than a hopeful future. Though the story is written with a humorous tone the message of the novel is tragic. The tragedy that Alexie through the voice of Arnold presents in his story is that Native American have under privileged lives due to their history and culture. Society has grown to expect them to fail which in turn discouraged them and sucked them dry to their hope and then they continue to live in their poverty. Arnold, who is the exception, finds the courage to leave the reservation even though he is racked with guilt to know that his tribe because they couldn’t find the mutation to prove society wrong.
After reading the book The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, I got a much better understanding of what that title means. When you think of part-time you normally think of having a part-time job when you only work some days but not all the time. Well that is a lot like the life of the main character in this story. Throughout the book, Junior manages to be “half Indian” and “half white” He says “It was like being Indian was my job.” Pg (96). How could someone be “half Indian” and “half white?”
If you have ever moved to new town, or changed schools, then you probably have a pretty good idea how Junior felt throughout the book. After Mr. P talks Junior into getting out of the REZ the only option Junior has, is to travel twenty three miles to Reardan and attend school with the white kids. Being the weirdest and least popular kid, life in the REZ must have been tough. Having parents that drank all the time, and spend money that junior’s family did not have on Alcohol made it hard for him to have clean clothes, and a new outfit to wear now and then. But having a best friend like Rowdy made things a little bit easier. Rowdy was junior’s secret keeper, he also beat anyone up that tried to hurt Junior and was all ways there for him. Well up in till the day Junior changed schools, everyone on the REZ hated Junior they looked at him like he was some sort of trader or bad person.
His first day at Reardan was tough; Reardan was the opposite of school back on the REZ. It was opposite of his family, and it was opposite of him. The only good part of the day was meeting Penelope. Junior gassed in wonder at her beauty, blond hair and blue eyes he had never seen anything so beautiful. Throughout the novel Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, we are able to see many different themes, the biggest being hope. Sherman Alexie and the main character Junior help us see the lost of hope through junior’s diary entry, his drawing and himself. During the story we see how Junior and his family/friends all start off with little hope at all. After being knocked off their feet for so many times you would’ve expected for someone to at least try to hold on to some form of hope, doesn’t happen. At one point in the story we see this loss of hope when Junior is talking to his teacher after he throws the book at the teacher’s face. “No teacher had ever said anything so nice… to me” pg (41). This quote really shows how little the people on the reservation had hope on themselves and others.
For the kids in the book this really showed how not even the teachers had any hope in a great majority of their kids, which is pretty taboo in the modern world where most teachers are all about hope in their students. We also see how Junior believes that hope also relays on ones race. Many characters in the book express more than once that whites had a better chance to become something better than the Indian or any other race. We really get a firsthand look when Junior draws a picture of a white unicorn and says “I don’t know if hope is white, but I do know that for me is like some mythical creature” pg (51). This really shows not only how inferior to the white race that Junior feels but also that hope never existed in his life before. As far as he knew Junior believed that he was going to grow up and be like his dad and the other men on the reservation. Alcoholic and struggling to make ends meet with very little education. Which in many ways is a heartbreaking way to feel.
Junior didn’t know what to do when he transfer to Reardan. He doesn’t know how to communicate with the “white” people and is kind of scared of them. Soon though, he makes friends and decides: It’s okay, white people aren’t bad (even if are racist). The theme of this book, “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie, he says that you should not dislike yourself because that’s just going to make your life harder. Just accept yourself and then that will improve your life and make you happier.
To conclude, Arnold made good decision and bad decision. The decision he made is forgiveness, throw book to the teacher, and went to a white school. Arnold changed his life by forgiving people even if they hurt him. He though that forgiveness can change anything.