Junior's Native Stereotypes in The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 1219 |

Pages: 3|

7 min read

Published: Dec 16, 2021

Words: 1219|Pages: 3|7 min read

Published: Dec 16, 2021


Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Initial Challenges and Stereotypes
  3. Courage and Resilience
  4. Transformation and Growth
  5. Conclusion


In Sherman Alexie's novel "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian," we delve into the life of Arnold Spirit, a young Native American residing on the WellPoint Reservation in Spokane, Washington. Raised alongside his parents, sister Mary, and frequently conversing with his grandmother, Arnold faces a multitude of challenges from birth. Born with excessive cerebral fluid in his brain, he grapples with a stutter, lisp, and vision impairment necessitating thick glasses. To compound matters, he identifies himself as a nerd, enduring relentless bullying from fellow Native Americans. Surrounded by poverty, alcoholism, drug abuse, and violence, Arnold's school environment offers little solace, designed to thwart the success of Indigenous students like himself. Despite his dissatisfaction with life on the reservation, Arnold's decision to transfer to Reardon, a predominantly white school, earns him the label of "traitor" among his people. Nevertheless, in this essay we will discuss how he emerges as a hero, determined to pursue his dreams and challenge stereotypes, showcasing his unwavering resilience.

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Initial Challenges and Stereotypes

Arnold Spirit initially characterizes himself as a "stuttering hydrocephalic" inhabiting an impoverished Indian reservation where bullying and violence are commonplace. His family dynamic is fraught with challenges, with alcoholic parents, a reclusive sister, and a best friend subjected to paternal abuse. Arnold's repeated use of the term "Indian" to describe himself and his community hints at internalized stereotypes. Despite the availability of the term "Native American," Arnold's preference for "Indian" suggests a desire for directness or reflects the pervasive cultural norms within his tribe.

Moreover, Arnold's self-perception is tinged with stereotypes, referring to himself as "weird" on multiple occasions. Additionally, his occasional use of homophobic language, though a means of communication within his social circle, underscores the prevalence of ingrained prejudices. This alienation from his tribe is further emphasized by their disdain for him.

The author's message becomes evident through Junior's interaction with his teacher, Mr. P. In a heartfelt moment, Mr. P acknowledges the pervasive sense of defeat among the reservation's inhabitants. However, he singles out Arnold as a beacon of hope, recognizing his resilience in overcoming numerous adversities. Mr. P's belief in Arnold's potential underscores the latter's unwavering determination, despite the challenges he faces.

Courage and Resilience

Arnold's decision to pursue hope at Reardon despite the reservations of his tribe underscores his courage and resilience. When Arnold questions his parents about hope, their response, favoring white people, highlights the prevailing sense of resignation among the reservation's inhabitants. Despite being surrounded by disappointment, Arnold refuses to succumb to despair like his parents, who abandoned their dreams. This echoes the central thesis of Arnold's unwavering hope and determination amidst adversity.

Arnold's willingness to defy societal expectations and pursue his dreams earns him the label of "traitor" among his tribe. Even his close friend Rowdy reacts with anger, resorting to violence. Arnold's unwavering resolve in the face of opposition showcases his courage. He remains undeterred by the backlash, determined to break free from the cycle of despair that plagues his community. His father's pride in Arnold's bravery further emphasizes the significance of his decision to pursue hope.

Transformation and Growth

Arnold's divergence from the mindset of his tribe highlights his growth and transformation throughout the novel. Initially prone to stereotyping, Arnold evolves to challenge these prejudices. Conversations with Gordy and classroom experiences prompt Arnold to question prevailing beliefs about race and success. He rejects the notion that success equates to "acting white" and recognizes the fallacy of tribal divisions. This demonstrates Arnold's evolving worldview and his rejection of narrow stereotypes.

The novel concludes with a poignant moment between Arnold and Rowdy, symbolizing acceptance and understanding. Rowdy's invitation to play basketball signifies his acceptance of Arnold's choices. Through Rowdy's recollection of nomadic Indians and Arnold's vision on the Great Wall of China, there's a sense of reconciliation and mutual respect. Arnold's tears signify his acceptance of himself, while Rowdy's dream reflects his acknowledgment of Arnold's new sense of self. This moment encapsulates Arnold's journey of self-discovery and acceptance, highlighting the theme of growth and transformation.

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Sherman Alexie's "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" presents a powerful narrative of resilience, courage, and transformation embodied by the protagonist, Arnold Spirit. Through Arnold's journey, we witness the harsh realities of life on the Spokane Reservation, where poverty, alcoholism, and despair are pervasive. Despite facing myriad challenges and enduring stereotypes, Arnold refuses to succumb to despair. His decision to pursue hope at Reardon, despite opposition from his tribe, underscores his unwavering determination to break free from the cycle of despair.


  1. Alexie, S. (2007). The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Little, Brown and Company.
  2. Bloom, H. (Ed.). (2010). Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Infobase Publishing.
  3. Awnsham, R. (2016). Indigenous Youth Resilience: A Model for the Development of Indigenous Youth Resilience in a Community Context. Journal of Community Psychology, 44(4), 450-465.
  4. Smith, A. T. (2018). Substance Use and Abuse Among Indigenous Adolescents: An Exploration of Risk and Protective Factors. Journal of Ethnicity in Substance Abuse, 17(4), 467-483.
  5. Culley, M. R. (2013). Understanding Trauma and Resilience Among Native American Indian Youth. Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma, 6(1), 19-30.
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Junior’s Native Stereotypes in The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. (2021, December 16). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 25, 2024, from
“Junior’s Native Stereotypes in The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.” GradesFixer, 16 Dec. 2021,
Junior’s Native Stereotypes in The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 25 May 2024].
Junior’s Native Stereotypes in The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2021 Dec 16 [cited 2024 May 25]. Available from:
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