The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian' by Sherman Alexie Analysis

  • Category: Books, Literature,
  • Pages: 4
  • Words: 858
  • Published: 26 April 2021
  • Copied: 100


Life is an intricate series of obstacles;they have the ability to shape the character of who one can become. The narrative novel “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie, is a coming of age story from the perspective of a Native American teenager, Arnold Spirit Jr., also known as "Junior". Born as hydrocephalus, a person with seizure-inducing water on their brain, “Junior”, the protagonist,  pursues better opportunities to escape from his insatiable living situation.  As a 14-year-old promising cartoonist is  determined, strong spirit in his quest to succeed and escape the destructive cycle of poverty intensifies as the story progresses. He is a smart youth who seeks to find better opportunities for himself as he begins to learn what life has prepared for him from his journey. Within the novel, profanity and mature subject matter support the tone, moreover, enhancing the realism aspect of the story.  The author depicts how despairing the reservation is while providing a set of eyes to those who do not experience or see it first-hand.  Therefore, the book highlights pushing the importance of pursuing greater things while taking the risk of having a better life.  This book reflects the ideals of adversity being a catalyst for identity-crises, change and growth in individuals. Nevertheless, without these obstacles, leading one astray into questionable character would be easy causing many naive and impressionable people.

Challenges imprint themselves into individuals daily. The flesh that endures them can only uphold a specific pain  capacity until their nerves give out. A crisis is a term used to describe a turning point in a war; it brings about devastation and loss. The necessities of life are scarce while uncertainty looms in the air, as chaos and conflict do not seem as foreign as they once were. An individual's response to such obstacles can determine the amount of violations they allow to impale them. A crisis in an individual’s identity arises from the displeasures spoken of them by others. In the story” The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian'' by Sherman Alexie, Rowdy character alludes to this ideation. When the main antagonist, Arnold ``Junior” Spirit Jr., informs Rowdy of his departure from Wellpinit Highschool, a shift in power takes place. Hostility and coldness are reflected onto Junior as an identity-crisis erupts in Rowdy. The phrase “I am leaving” was an impactful punch that the support he had accustomed himself to.  Junior was Rowdy’s Oscar; Oscar was Junior’s family dog, and he loved him more than life. Oscar had to be let go by a shotgun because the family could afford to see him be in agony, dragging his suffering along with bullets being cheaper than medicine. Junior felt a wave of grief as he heard his best friend’s last bark. The friendship between the boys is like a crutch and security blanket for them both. Like Oscar, Junior was who Rowdy turned to when his father abused him; he found refuge in the presence of Junior. The relationship allows for Rowdy to praxis his frustration with others and expresses his distorted view of love for Junior. Unbeknownst to Junior, his words had created and spiralled bullets into the body of Rowdy, destroying the image of Junior and leaving Arnold the white-loving traitor. Love for Junior lingered within him however he chose to manipulate it into hatred. Hatred causes the boys to separate and not speak for months. Nonetheless, in contrast to their hatred, the novel has Rowdy speak of love once after the boys come into contact once again. Arnold then falls in love with a beautiful white girl named Penelope and asks Rowdy for advice. Rowdy believes he’ll be nothing because of how “Indians” are always born to die on the reserve, he sees himself as nothing and feels as if he will achieve nothing whereas Arnold ignites an atmosphere change within Rowdy and the people around him. As the image of Junior died in the eyes of Rowdy, Arnold was looked at with pride and admiration by Mary.

For many people, their community works as a barrier against their aspirations. They cave in to societal pressures because they have no alternatives; however, when hope is present they defy and work towards their aspirations. Mary Spirit is a prime portrayal of this concept. She is the older sister of the main antagonist; a woman described to be one who lingers in the basement for days on end, coming out for an hour a day.  Arnold’s teacher Mr. P describes Mary to be one of the best and brightest he had taught. Many individuals feel a heave of pressure when they are academically gifted; when they don't meet their goals, they belittle and lambast themselves. However, in the Native community, their dreams collapse due to the continuous lies being spoken onto them. Entranced by the literature of love, she immerses herself in romance novels illustrating how the author wants readers to see her desperation in a positive light. She writes the novel in a way that stays true to the title, that being in a diary style. The reader is not developing their own biases but viewing from the perspective of the antagonist. The identity crisis of the novel is not seen within her rather her younger brother. Her determination to search for love and better life is a catalyst for the confucius spirit that is Arnold Spirit. She is aware of who she is and what her roles in life are to be however she craves for more.