Angelica Ross

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian


Arnold, the main character of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, lives in a poor Spokane Native American neighborhood with his two alcoholic parents and his older sister. He chooses to from the poor school in his neighborhood to a white rich school. The kids immediately judge him and to make matters worse the kids at the last school begin to bully him. When he joins the basketball team and has to face his last school, he gets so much hate that it effects the entire basketball team. During the hate, he makes good friends at the new school and no longer worries about the kids that don’t like him. “If you let people into your life a little bit, they can be pretty damn amazing.” (page 129) He goes to those good friends after his grandmother and sister moves and eventually passes away. He was strong enough to get through the hate and tough times and become friends with his past friends again.

Character Analysis: Arnold Spirit

Arnold Spirit is a teenage boy that lives on a Spokane Native American reservation. He lives with his father, mother, grandmother, and sister. He is tall and thin and has an abnormally large head since he was born with too much cerebral spinal fluid in his head. According to The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, "I was born with water on the brain."(Pg. 1) Besides his physical appearance, Arnold is very creative. He does a lot of drawing in his free time and is on the basketball team for his new school. Arnold is also a very intelligent boy. He gets everything done in class before all the other kids and gets bored. He feels he deserves more than what he has now. He always goes for his goals and even though he doesn't have a specific goal, he figures it out along the way.


The conflict of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is character vs. society because he is being bullied for being native american. The society has put a negative label on the native Americans which makes people think they are different. It's not the kids' faults that they make fun of Native Americans; the society taught them to make fun of the Native Americans. According to The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, "It sucks to be poor, and it sucks to feel that you somehow deserve to be poor. You start believing that you're poor because you're stupid and ugly. And then you start believing that you're stupid and ugly because you're Indian." (Pg. 13) The resolution of the story is he goes to a better school and he makes new friends, gets a better education and gets into greater opportunites for himself.


The theme of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is to not give up on the things you believe you deserve. Arnold felt he deserved to have a better education and to be in a better environment since he wasn't being challenged and some guys were making fun of him. He chose to go to a different school that he knew he would be made fun of by the kids there. He also knew the kids at his last school would begin to bully him, but he still went to the other school to get a better education for himself. He began playing on the basketball team and when his team had to play his old school's team the kids on the old school side were insulting him and bringing him down. Instead of dropping out of the game, he kept on playing and led his team to victory. He never gave up on his goals even though there were tough things getting into his way.

Textual Evidence

My favorite quote from The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is "They stared at me, the Indian boy with the black eye and swollen nose, my going-away gifts from Rowdy. Those white kids couldn't believe their eyes. They stared at me like I was Bigfoot or a UFO. What was I doing at Reardan, whose mascot was an Indian, thereby making me the only other Indian in town." I wouldn't consider this my favorite quote. I would consider this to be the most shocking quote to me. I didn't really know much about racism, but reading this book and this quote, it shocks me that someone would automatically judge someone for their race. It makes no sense to have someone be judged as a bad person or a weird person or a dangerous person the very first second they are looked at. It's not fair for people that are a different race. They are in a society that thinks it's okay to have people think they are weird for being a different race even though it's nowhere close to being okay.

Book review

I would give The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian a four out of five stars because the book was very entertaining and had an interesting dialogue. On the other hand, the book wasn't a challenging book and I like to be challenged. If we are going to look at the theme of bullying, he didn't have that much trouble. Sure, he had people make fun of him, but he was able to solve the problem in a short span of time. If you are looking for an easy, entertaining book I suggest The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

Works Cited

"The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian." - Hachette Book Group. Web. 06 May 2016.

Shmoop Editorial Team. "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian." Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 06 May 2016.