The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian discussion


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The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian

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message 1: by Rkw4psu.Edu (new)

Rkw4psu.Edu This novel is the light hearted yet subtly heavy tale of Arnold, better known as Junior and his transition for the reservation school to a White school just off the border. Junior faces many conflicts there but I think no conflict is greater than that between Junior and his best friend Rowdy. Rowdy views Junior as a traitor. However, while Junior makes a friend at Reardan he finds more and more that he needs the authentic friendship that he has with Rowdy. Junior often expresses his feelings toward Rowdy however Junior is met with slurs and sometimes even physical violence. This is obviously due to Rowdy’s violent upbringing. I think that the conflict between Junior and Rowdy is at its core representative of the conflict between Junior and his tribe. As Junior aims to leave his tribe in search of hope he must find a way to bridge the gap between who he is and who he wants to be.


message 2: by John (new)

John III “This is your final post on the YA books you've read during this course. Which book would you most recommend and why?

Sherman Alexie's "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian" is the book I would recommend the most for reading and teaching. Alexie's wit and poignant observation that develop Junior's voice are unique and authentic. The combination of sketches, jokes, and sad realities that Junior uses throughout the book make him a truly defined character. Every time I have read this book (3 times now) I could hear my own teenage thoughts through Junior even though we may have had vastly different experiences (Junior is a Native American who lives his tribal school to attend a more prestigious white school while I am a white male. Though I may not be able to relate on the same level as I am not a minority, I too felt a sense of alienation as my schooling continued and I watched all my friends leave as part of the white flight while I stayed behind in as a white minority in a majority black school. ) In addition to the quick witted easy to read page-turning humor, Alexie's novel deals with explosively sensitive issues that are essential to dialogue in America: racial relations and identity. As an American history and civics teacher, I am biased towards novels that raise questions about racial inequality and identity formation that have their roots in our deeply troubled history of race relations in America. This novel deals with how Junior negotiates his relationships and sense of sense when navigating between his Indian home and his white school; his Indian best friend Rowdy and his new school where Junior has opportunities denied Natives at reservation schools. I am a white teacher at an overwhelmingly minority school (90%+ of our student population is African American) that suffers from many of the same issues facing the students at the reservation schools, so my students can easily identify with Junior's struggles while also learning about situations that may be invisible to them. I think that humor is important for confronting ugly truths that exist. To borrow a few quotes:
"Humor is just another defense against the universe." - Mel Brooks

"Humor is laughing at what you haven't got when you ought to have it." - Langston Hughes 

In this sense, Alexie's humor is a means by which we the audience can deal with difficult topics like: what does it mean to be an Indian in a white dominated culture? “


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