81 pages 2 hours read

Sherman Alexie

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Fiction | Novel | YA | Published in 2007

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Chapters 1-3Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 1 Summary: “The Black-Eye-of-the-Month Club”

The narrator, Arnold “Junior” Spirit Jr., is 14 years old and lives on an Indian Reservation in Spokane, Washington. He introduces himself by saying he was born with hydrocephaly, or “water on the brain” (1). As a baby, he underwent brain surgery that he was not expected to survive, but he lived with complications. He had 42 teeth, and had the 10 extra pulled in one day. The dentist gave him only half the usual amount of Novocain because the “white dentist believed Indians only felt half as much pain as white people did” (2). As a result of hydrocephaly, Junior is nearsighted and wears thick glasses issued by Indian Health Service. He gets headaches, is extremely skinny with huge hands and feet, and has an enormous skull.

Growing up, Junior also had seizures twice a week, which re-damaged his brain. At the time of writing, he is still susceptible to seizures, but he hasn’t had one in seven years. The brain damage has left him with a stutter and a lisp, which his peers bully him for. He gets beaten up twice a month and so belongs to what he calls the “Black-Eye-of-the-Month Club” (4).