The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Essay

795 WordsNov 7, 20144 Pages
Where It All Goes Down Wellpinit and Reardan, WA The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian features two main settings, the Pacific Northwest towns of Wellpinit and Reardan. These contrasting locations – one an impoverished Indian reservation and the other an affluent white community – become very important to the ever-shifting identity of our narrator, Arnold Spirit, Jr. Wellpinit, WA First, there's Wellpinit, the home of the Spokane Indian Reservation where Arnold lives with his mother, father, sister, and grandmother. The Spirit family have lived on the reservation all of their lives, and Arnold is known there not by his first name, but simply as "Junior." As his name suggests, he's very much connected to – and identified…show more content…
Arnold's father's best friend Eugene gets accidentally shot in the face while fighting over the last drop of alcohol in an almost-empty bottle. With hope flickering out of existence, Arnold tells us that reservations were "meant to be prisons" (29.26). They are places where Indians were supposed to die – and disappear. Despite all this, Arnold does acknowledge that there are some good things about the reservation in Wellpinit. As he tells us, "the reservation is beautiful" (30.1), with millions of pine trees everywhere, some of them "older than the United States" (30.6). Plus, the reservation is home to a very close-knit community of Indian families where everybody knows everyone else. Arnold writes that "you know every kid's father, mother, grand parents, dog, cat, and shoe size. I mean, yes, Indians are screwed up, but we're really close to each other" (22.17). He compares Indian families to the white community in Reardan, where neighbors can be strangers and fathers have been known to hide "in plain sight" (22.19). For Arnold, then, the reservation is both heaven and hell, both home and a place he must leave. Reardan, WA The novel's second major setting is Reardan, an affluent, mostly-white town 22 miles away from the reservation in Wellpinit. Reardan is home to the high school where Arnold decides to transfer. Arnold's identity in Reardan is not directly related to his tribe or his family. He is known in Reardan not as "Junior," but as
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