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The Issue of Stereotypes in 'The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian'

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One of today many problem involves stereotypes. It can affect many people in several different ways. Cultural stereotypes can be a delicate subject because people outside the culture will try to categorize a culture which creates stereotypes. Although some stereotypes can be positive most stereotypes are negative and seem like they were made to attack the person. This can be seen when comparing Native Americans and Caucasians. Both cultures are very different and they seem the other cultures norms as something odd. These differences cause conflict between cultures.

Stereotypes can affect people in real life. According to Dwanna L. Robertson, when it comes to stereotyping Indians, people who play indians in a Thanksgiving play or Columbus day celebration misrepresent them. The worst part it that it has been done so much that when a average person in the U.S. see it they don’t see anything bad about it. But to the Indigenous people can be offencive and misrepresented. Indigenous people feel like many people in the us view them as lazy drunks.

In the book, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, when Arnold, the narrator and main character, first moved to an all white school, he felt like everyone was going to judge his identity. Even the teachers judged him just because he was indian. In the page number 85, Arnold wanted to correct his teacher but the teacher took the correction personally and decided to discredit him by sarcastically saying that the science in the reservation we so “amazing”. And the teacher only recognized he was wrong when another boy confirmed that Arnold was right. In the story Arnold was stereotyped about how good his education is because his previous school is in the reservation.

Another big stereotype, that the white people see in Indigenous people are there violent nature. When people portray Native American they usually portrayed them and with weapons in their hands. This shows that many americans people see them as violent or bararic for always having the need for a weapon. But when you think about it, the native americans haven’t really shown signs of violence compared to Euro-American. In U.S. history it has been the Euro-Americans that have shown more violence than the Native people. For example, mass genocide or enslavement and taking land to the Native people. In the story, Arnold admits that the people in his tribe can be violent because they like to pick fight whenever they possibly can, but it also shows how they do it for honor. When arnold when to Reardan and was about to fight, he was surprised when he threw the first punch and won. Not because his opponent was knocked out but because in Reardan, fighting was not a thing. That created conflict in crossing to another culture because he was now looked as if he was a savage and that “fight” contributed more to it. But at least he was later respected.

Something that many people don’t know, is that most Native Americans that live in reservation don’t live under good living conditions, some people have even said that the living condition are “comparable to Third World”. Arnold life could be considered poor in the story. Arnold was even afraid to let his friends at Reardan know that he was poor. He even refused to get free lunch because he didn’t want to know as “the only Indian and a sad sack who needed charity.” This causes him to go out of his way to prevent anyone in Reardan from know including trying to go home instead of hanging out with his friends. At the end his friends found out but they didn’t react like how Arnold thought they would because they accepted him. He thought that they thought that they would ridicule him for something that is still out of his control.

When it comes to what Native people think about a caucasian American, the stereotypes seem to suggest that life for caucasian have a better life. Referring back to the book, when arnold was first going Reardan he had an idea that going to an all white school, he was scared because he thinks that Reardan is more superior than his old school Wellpinit. In the story Reardan are better at sports and academics so Arnold automatically think that everyone in that school will think that they are better than him. But when it came time for the tryouts, he made it to varsity but Arnold doubted himself and wasn’t even going to tryout just because he thought that other people in Reardan are better than him just because they have always been there.

Both Native American and Caucasian have stereotypes and they take them to heart without having the chance to know whether or not the stereotype is true. The Indigenous people have worst for them when it comes to stereotypes especially when it come to education but it is important to know that not everyone will fall under stereotypes and anyone can easily prove the stereotype that is associated with them wrong. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian was a great example of how stereotypes can affect how people see others without knowing.

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The Issue Of Stereotypes In ‘The Absolutely True Diary Of A Part Time Indian’. (2021, December 16). GradesFixer. Retrieved September 29, 2022, from
“The Issue Of Stereotypes In ‘The Absolutely True Diary Of A Part Time Indian’.” GradesFixer, 16 Dec. 2021,
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