The Absolutely True Diary Of A Part Time Indian By Sherman Alexie

1957 Words8 Pages
What is identity? Is it something you are born with? Is it something you become? Can it change? In The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie, we watch Junior Spirit, the main character, take a journey in order to discover who he is. Junior is a boy living on the Spokane Reservation in Washington, who decides to attend a white high school, Reardan, in order to hold onto his dreams and create opportunities for himself. But, as the book progresses, Junior struggles between his two identities: an Indian on the reservation and a white student at Reardan. It takes many events, which seem to force Junior to choose a side, and several tragic deaths of Junior’s family, which drive him into grief and hopelessness, in order…show more content…
p. 89

This shows just how connected Junior feels to the reservation. Part of the reason for this was because Junior had no other culture to identify with. White people were viewed as outsiders, and many of the Indians on the reservation loathed them, because they were wealthier and had many more opportunities. Junior was brought up to feel this way about white people, and so Junior didn’t feel connected to them in any way. Although Junior certainly identified as an Indian, he also feels different because of his physical characteristics and personality. Junior was born with “water on the brain” (p. 1), so he had to have an operation when he was just a baby. Because of this, Junior is really skinny, has giant hands and feet, has ten more teeth than is normal, a very large head, and talks with a lisp and a stutter. Aside from this, Junior is also really shy and smart. These things combined make him a target for bullies, and he is constantly harassed, both by other kids his age, as well as adults. At the beginning of the book, Junior shows how he was bullied by explaining,

Everybody on the rez calls me a retard about twice a day. They call me a retard when they are pantsing me or stuffing my head in the toilet or just smacking me upside the head.
p. 4 and then later saying,

Do you know what happens to retards on the rez?
We get beat up.
At least once a month.
Yep, I belong
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