The Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
On The Outside Looking In
Being an outsider in a new place is never easy. One has to do twice the work to make friends, and fit in. While reading the novel, I could relate to the character of Arnold Spirit. The obstacles he faced going to a new school, with a different culture reminded me of struggles I faced myself when I started school in America. Trying to “fit in” to a culture foreign of your own is especially hard when you’re a teenager like Arnold, and you haven’t even figured out who you really are yet yourself. Fortunately, time goes on, and we overcome our battles eventually.
They say “sticks and stones will break my bones, but ...view middle of the document...
Arnold seemed to always feel like a stranger, no matter where he was. “I was half Indian in one place and half white in the other (Alexie, p.118).” On the reservation, he was pressured to be like the rest of the Indians, and at his new high school, he felt pressured to blend in with his white classmates. On the Indian reservation there was very little hope for success to anyone. It was full of alcoholics, violence, poverty, and death.
Arnold was the first to leave the rez in the search for hope elsewhere. He was excited about attending high school until he was given a math book his mom used when she was in high school. This made Junior furious with the reservation. He couldn’t believe that the reservation couldn’t even afford new books for the students. Out of anger, Arnold threw his book at Mr. P. A few days later the two had a heart-to-heart where Mr. told Arnold “The only thing you kids are being taught is how to give up (Alexie, p.42).” So he suggested that Arnold go as far away from the reservation as he could. With the help of Mr. P’s inspirational words, he decided to transfer to an all “white” school called Rearden in the search for “hope”. Illustrated on a cartoon on page 43, there was a sign with an arrow pointing left, and an arrow pointing right. The left one wrote “Rez” and “Home”, while the right one wrote, “Hope” with question marks. Arnold was drawn on the right side looking hesitant and scared for his new journey. Other than his family, everyone from the reservation grew hatred for Arnold for betraying them by trying to get something better somewhere else. Even his best friend Rowdy, who always protected Arnold from harm whenever he could, became angry at him. After all, Arnold was the one good thing in Rowdy’s life, and the one person he didn’t want to lose.
When Arnold first came to Rearden, he stood out right away because he was Native American, and most of the other kids were white. Roger, who was one of the big jocks in high school, and his crew picked on Junior the first day and started calling him racist names. As a kid in high school, this was a total nightmare. Arnold contemplated about what he should do using the reservation “rules”, and he ended up punching Roger in the face. This completely shocked Roger, and he ended up gaining respect for Arnold.
Junior was embarrassed about being poor, and he thought all of the kids at school would judge him, and hate him for it. Rearden was twenty-two miles from the reservation, so Arnold had to either walk or hitchhike to school when his father didn’t have enough money for gas to drive him there. He had to wait for all of the kids to leave school before he could start his trek so they wouldn’t see him having to walk home. However, his classmates and friends at the white school accepted him for who he was, and they liked him very quickly. He became friends with a smart kid named Gordy. Junior even managed to get a girlfriend named Penelope, who was popular at the Rearden....