All people are different and the characters in “The Absolutely True Diary of A Part-TIme Indian” demonstrate this. The main character Arnold “Junior” Spirit shows that even though you may be born in the same place and time as others you are different. This is the case with Junior and his best friend Rowdy, while they were born in the same town at the same time Junior’s drive to get more out of life set him apart from Rowdy. This was demonstrated by his push to change schools, his determination not to remain poor, and accepting the help of others around him.
One of the biggest differences between Junior and Rowdy is their attitudes towards school. Junior wanted to leave his school at the reservation and transfer to Rearden. Going to the school in his reservation upset Junior. He showed his frustration by saying, “my school and my tribe are so poor and sad that we have to study from the same dang books our parents studied from” (Alexie, 31). Juniors school was poor and they couldn’t afford to buy new resources. Wellpinit was poor and Junior didnt got angry for using resources his parents used.
The reason why Junior wanted to transfer schools was because of Mr. P gave him advice to leave the reservation. Mr. P’s advice to Junior was to leave the Rez so he wont give up on hope. Soon as Juniors parents got home he asked his parents to transfer him to a different school. Then his parents started to name the schools that all the poor kids attended such as Springdale and Hunters, but Junior refused. Junior wanted to go to Rearden because it was one of the best small schools in the state, had a computer room, huge chemistry lab, two basketball gyms, and a drama club.
But going Rearden made Junior feel like a Part-Time Indian. The reason he feels like an Part-Time Indian is because he felt like he belonged to two tribes. Junior felt like he had to play two different roles, when he is at his reservation he was Junior and when he went to Rearden he was known as Arnold. So he becomes a multi-tribal person. Rowdy never felt the same towards school as Junior. Mr. P he told Junior that rowdy gave up “the only thing you kids are being taught is how to give up. You friend Rowdy, hes given up. That’s why he likes to hurt people.
He wants them to feel bad as he does (Alexie 42). ” Rowdy doesn’t have support like Junior and he doesn’t have the motivation to stay in school like Junior. Junior and Rowdy are going through poverty, they are both really poor. Juniors family always been poor and he hates it. Arnold hates the fact that his father always gambles or spends their family money on booze. And sometimes he would have to walk to school because his father didn’t have gas. After, christmas comes and Juniors father disappears and goes on a drinking binge.
When he returns he gives Junior a five-dollar bill and he is grateful for the money. As he transferred to Rearden, everybody thought he was rich, because the white kids though the government gave money to the Indians. Junior made it seem like he was rich to all the white people, the reason why he did, is because he didn’t want anybody to know that he was poor. Then later on Junior finally confesses to Penelope that he is poor. And his friend Roger pays the food tab for Junior. Penelope didn’t judge Junior she just kissed him on the cheek.
Rowdy was also going through poverty, but he didn’t have the same dreams as Junior. Junior wanted a life outside of the reservation and Rowdy was living a “fake life. ” Rowdy didn’t want to leave the reservation because if he did, then he would feel like he turned his back on his culture. Rowdy didn’t have friends that would give him money like Junior had. Junior was Rowdy’s best friend and only friend, they were both poor and they couldn’t support each other financially. They had similar struggles with money, because Indians were known to be poor.
The rez Arnold and Rowdy are from is Wellpinit. In the Wellpinit reservation Indians were poor. Also, the Indians didn’t have good resources, they had to use books that were over thirty years old. The Wellpinit reservation school didn’t have prom like Rearden, they had a powwow. During the powwow the Indians were always drunk. Wellpinits environment was unhealthy, because most of the Indians are drunk and become violent. According to Mr. P, he told Junior the only thing they will teach him is to hate himself. When Junior finally transfers to Rearden he is the poorest kid at the school.
Rearden was not poor, but middle class. Junior was the only Indian kid at Rearden, the school was filled with white people. Rearden teaches knowledge and not like how Wellpinit teaches the students to hate themselves. Also, Rearden has more resources such as an computer room and a library full of books. The environment around Rearden is healthy. Another thing about Rearden they are not violent and don’t get drunk at prom. The difference from Juniors parents they care about him. Juniors parents are drunks, but not violent.
When Junior’s parents are drunk the only thing they would do is either ignore or yell at him. In his whole life he never been spanked by his parents “But they never, ever, never, ever hit me. I’ve never been spanked” (Alexie 16). He said his mother would want to haul and slap him, but his father never let it happen. Juniors father never believes in physical punishment, his father believes in staring cold at junior “he doesn’t believe in physical punishment; he believes in staring so cold at me that I turn into a ice-covered ice cube with an icy filling” (Alexie 17).
Juniors dad would never abuse him while he was intoxicated. Rowdy’s parents are very violent when they are drunk. His father drinks very hard and throws hard punches, and would abuse Junior and his mom. Junior and his mom would walk around with bruises all over their body and sometimes bloody faces. Rowdy would always tell Junior his wounds were war paint and his bruises or blood would make him look tougher. Rowdy would never hide his wounds, he would show off his wounds around the reservation. One morning, Rowdy went to Junior’s house limping because he sprained his knee.
Rowdy’s father made Rowdy’s ear bigger, because his father said he wasn’t listening “Dad said I wasn’t listening,” Rowdy said. “So he got all drunk and tried to make my ear a little bigger” (Alexie 16). Rowdy would always go to Junior’s house because it was a safe place. Junior has a lot of support from his grandmother, gordy, and Mr. P, but rowdy only had Junior’s support. Mr. P told junior he had to leave the reservation the reason why he told Junior to leave is because, Junior had potential not to give up easy as the other kids on the reservation.
Mr. P was telling junior his friends, mother, father, grandparents, and every teacher has given up “all these kids have given up,” he said. All your friends. All the bullies. And their mothers and fathers have given up, too. And their grandparents gave up and their grandparents before them. And me and every other teacher here. We’re all defeated” (Alexie 42), then he told Junior if he was going to stay everybody at the reservation was going to kill him.
Junior told Mr. P he didn’t want to fight anybody, but Mr. P was explaining to Junior that he’s been fighting ever since he was born “You’ve been fighting since you were born,” he said. “You fought off that brain surgery. You fought off seizures. You fought off all the drunks and drug addicts. You kept your hope. And now, you have to take your hope and go somewhere where other people have hope” (Alexie 43). Junior punched a kid in the face, named Roger. Roger got punched by Junior because he was being racist towards the black people, Indians, and the buffalo. One night, Junior went home terrified and confused because he punched Roger.
The reason why Junior was terrified is because he thought Roger was plotting his revenge. The same day Junior couldn’t get advice from his mother and father, so he asked his grandma for advice. His grandma said he earned his respect by punching Roger in the face. Juniors grandma said he was the new dog of the school, so the alpha male of the school will push him around to see how tough he is “Yes way! You see, you men and boys are like packs of wild dogs, This giant boy is the alpha male of the school, and you’re the new dog, so he pushed you around a bit to see how tough you are” ( Alexie 68).
Transferring to Rearden, Junior didnt have any friends until he asked a boy named gordy to be his friend. They were both lonely, terrified, and isolated. Gordy teached Junior how to really read a book and about the joys of learning. Since Junior and Gordy were the outcasts from their respective communities they later formed a “tribe of two. ” Gordy tells Junior by taking his drawings seriously and you love it and then you can navigate the river of the world “If you’re good at it, and you love it, and it helps you navigate the river of the world , then it can’t be wrong” (Alexie 95).
Junior took his advice seriously, he said Gordy should be a poet. Then he was explaining to Junior he should also read and draw because really good books and cartoons give you a boner. Junior never really knew anything about reading books, until he met Gordy who gave him the knowledge about how make a book good. Rowdy never had support from other people beside Junior. He would always get abused by his father, so he couldn’t really communicate with his parents. The only person who really cared for him was Junior.
Rowdy was like Juniors brother, also Junior was the only person that Rowdy respected. Rowdy never respected anybody else, the only reason why he respects Juniors is because they are best friends and they grew up with each others. Now, Rowdy doesn’t really have anybody to talk to or hang out with, because he lost his best friend Junior because he transferred to Rearden. Rowdy is really upset with Juniors decision to leave his reservation. Rowdy started getting angry and he punched Junior three times. Junior tries to communicate with Rowdy, but he gets rejected.