The Absolutely True Diary Of A Part Time Indian Essay

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The Absolutely True Diary of a Part – Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

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    The Absolutely True Diary of A Part-Time Indian


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      We have all been somehow discriminated against, sought out, and called different during our lives at one point or another. The book "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian", by Sherman Alexie, chronicles the difficulties of a Native American teenager called Junior as he faces that time in his life. Junior is trying to escape his horrible life on the reservation city of Wellpinit, filled with abject poverty and alcoholism, and reach a better life among the whites by going to school at their town of Reardan. This causes many Native American tribal members to physically and mentally abuse him for associating with the whites. Therefore, Junior gets used to and accepts that he is a "part-time Indian." There are many traces in Junior that can support how he is a part-time Indian, such as the fact that he goes to the white high school, how he refuses to settle arguments with violence (or simply physically cannot) and how he wants to learn and grow intellectually.

      The first and clearly obvious act that shows how Junior is a part-time Indian is his insistence to for to high school at Reardan, the rich white town. After a incident where he discovered that Wellpinit High School had been using the same math books for over thirty years, Junior finally realizes the complete lack of hope on the reservation. As he says, "My school and my tribe are so poor and sad that we have to study from the same dang books our parents study from... My hopes and dreams [for high school and furthering my life] floated up in a mushroom cloud." He gets so angry that he throws the math book at his teacher's head. However, his teacher is not angry with him, and sees the desperate hope and the raw necessity that Junior has to get off the reservation and build a new life, and the teacher encourages him to go to Reardan. Junior then begins his amazing journey through his 9th grade year, establishing himself academically and physically, and truly winning the respect of not only the whites, but also the Indians. This shows how Junior is a part-time Indian in one aspect - although his race, color, and ethnicity mark him as a Native American, his hope to change and his going to a white school, the first Indian on his reservation to anything like that, mark him a a white.

      The second aspect that makes Junior a part-time Indian is inabilaty to fight to claim his honor. He states, "My all-time [fighting] record was five wins and one hundred and twelve losses." This lack of mental strength to want to fight and to want to win can be found in Junior and similarily found in whites that go to Reardan. As Junior says, "[after punching Roger in the face] 'You punched me,' Roger said... He sounded like his poor little feelings had been hurt." White people in Reardan don't act without thought, or without reason, or in anger. However, Native Americans on the reservation most definetely do, as their lack of hope causes a deep anger which they feel must be imparted to others. Junior is the only Native American which is an exception to this rule. Though he may look the part, on the inside, Junior is not really an Indian, due to his hatred of fighting.

      The third and final part of Junior that clearly shows how he is a part-time Indian is his intelligence. As he states, "...but I was way smarter than 99 percent of the others [from Reardan]. And not just smart for an Indian, okay? I was smart, period." Junior often remarks on how the people living in the reservation are severly uneducated. Almost nobody on the reservation has ever gone to college, as they have all dropped out of high school. Junior also states how, compared to Native Americans, white people were "beautiful and smart and epic." Junior's "part-time Indian" aspect becomes clear in his many statements: although most Indians don't even make an attempt to learn or better themselves, he clearly has, and therefore grown above other Native Americans, and even most whites, as a result. Junior is still technically Indian if only defined by what's on the outside, but the inside, especially his brain, tells a different story. He's what is fellow tribal members call an "apple" - red on the outside, but purely white on the inside. However, in that white inside, Junior has found what is one of the most important things to him - an oppurtunity to learn.

      In conclusion, there are three easily viewable things about Junior that make him a true "apple" - his going to the white high school, his unwillingness to fight to settle conflict, and his thirst for knowledge. Although his tribal members may have constantly harrassed him for his apparently misplaced faith in the whites, he overcame the tough times and began to excel. In Junior, we see a young man that is willing to hope in the worst of times - willing to find the hope in the dark. That kind of person, one who is willing to take risks, is the one who reap the greatest profits, just as Junior did.