Analysis of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Everyone uses a different voice or tone when writing, but in the “Absolute Diary of a Part-Time Indian”, Alexie Sherman gives several voices or tones to Junior depending on his mood or emotion. Particularly at the end, when Junior has lost his grandma, Eugene, and eventually his sister, experiences racism at Rearend, and harassment at the Rez which displays several of Junior’s voice and tone shifts. I noticed 3 different voices or tones when Junior gets emotional, and trying to get through his trauma: depressed, frustrated, and eventually peaceful, as Junior faces damage through these stages in his life as he tries different coping mechanisms.
Starting in chapter 22, Red Versus White, from pages 153-155, Alexie changes Junior’s voice, “And yeah, my grandmother was kind and smart and had traveled to about 100 different Indian reservations, but that had nothing to do with her greatness. “ The word “greatness” isn’t often described for grandparents, this shows that Junior thinks differently about his grandmother than most kids think about their grandparents. Most kids usually describe their grandparents as “wise” or “loving” or “generous”, but the word “greatness” is often described with something large, or quality of a high number, or something important. The reason why Junior used the word “greatness” is that his grandmother had a lot of pride, and was important to Junior.
Meanwhile, that set of mind has changed into a raging storm in chapter 24, Valentine Heart, from pages 169-171, as Alexie starts to write Junior’s voice being more emotional, “We didn’t even have enough time to forgive him. He punished himself for his sins”. This quote says a lot about how his voice starts to break, and Junior is upset, frustrated, mournful, and confused all at the same time. Eugene, who is like an uncle to Junior, even helped him out in a game by stitching him up, after Rowder threw a quarter at him while telling him, “You’ll beat them next time”, on page 147. Eugene died by murder, he was fighting over a wine bottle with a friend when the friend shot him and he died drunk. Unfortunately, Eugene never got his justice because the murder committed suicide, and Junior was beaten about that, he wanted justice for Eugene, so he felt better about the cause of death.
In chapter 24, on pages 176-178, Junior’s voice changes when he is coping with his agonized experience, as Alexie writes in Junior’s voice, “I keep writing and rewriting, drawing and redrawing, and rethinking and revising and reediting. It became my grieving ceremony”. In this chapter, Junior makes a list of his favorite things, and most of them are related to his loved ones' favorite things. For instance, Junior starts by listing the people who had “given him the most joy in his life”, and the list from top to bottom has, Rowdy, his mother, his father, his grandmother, Eugene, coach, Rodger, who is a friend of Junior's dad and who had gained his respect by defending himself, Gordy, a friend of his who has a lot of similar interest with him and is the smartest kid at Rearend, and Penelope, his girlfriend, which he adds “even if she only partially loves me”. Then he writes a list of 5 musicians who had played the most joyous music, and the top 4 are his mother’s, father’s, grandmother’s, and sister’s favorite, and the last one is his favorite. Junior writes lists of the things that make him and his close family and friends happy, as a coping mechanism making him feel joyful, calm, and reserved.
Junior lost many loved ones, his grandmother, Eugene, and his sister, this tortured him but he eventually found his way of surviving these horrid losses. By coming up with lists of things that made him and the people who brought him the most joy, and making him and them gleeful, finally gives Junior peace.