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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Important Quotes

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“I draw because I want to talk to the world. And I want the world to pay attention to me.” 

(Chapter 1, Page 6)

Junior’s explanation for why he draws reveals his thoughtfulness and his desire for connection with people around him. That he wants the world to “pay attention” to him demonstrates his ambition, as well as his desire to be truly seen as person. He seeks recognition on the global and community level as well as the individual level.

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“But we reservation Indians don’t get to realize our dreams. We don’t get those chances. Or choices. We’re just poor. That’s all we are. It sucks to be poor, and it sucks to feel that you somehow deserve to be poor. You start believing that you’re stupid and ugly. And then you start believing that you’re stupid and ugly because you’re Indian. And because you’re Indian you start believing you’re destined to be poor. It’s an ugly circle and there’s nothing you can do about it. Poverty doesn’t give you strength or teach you lessons about perseverance. No, poverty only teaches you how to be poor.” 

(Chapter 2, Page 13)

Junior outlines the inescapable cycle of poverty that exists on the reservation, largely as the result of years’ of oppression by White power structures. The damaging effects of poverty are not just material, but psychological, causing great strain on the mental health of those who are caught in its trap. For Junior, the cycle of poverty results in futility and hopelessness, as well as internalized racism: “you start believing you’re stupid and ugly because you’re Indian.” Poverty offers no room for possibility or imagining a different life; it only teaches you how to exist within the system, enduring its great burden.

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“I think Rowdy might be the most important person in my life. Maybe more important than my family. Can your best friend be more important that your family?”

(Chapter 3, Page 24)

Junior loves Rowdy so deeply that at times this love prevents him from seeing Rowdy’s cruelty or violence fully, and it inhibits his ability to appreciate the ways they might be different. Junior’s question about whether a best friend can be more important than your family underscores the close bond he has with Rowdy and reveals his curious, questioning nature.