-----Book Club-----Olivia Sutter

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian

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Arnold Spirit is a teenage boy that lives on a Native American Spokane reservation. His parents are alcoholics and care very little about his academics. He always feels like he doesn’t fit in his community. Arnold soon discovers that he should go to a different school off of his reservation. He goes to Reardan High School, a school filled with mostly white kids. At first, he didn’t fit in but soon he became popular. His best friend, Rowdy, thinks that he betrayed his community. Arnold joins the school’s basketball team and becomes the best player. Over the time of the book, his grandmother and sister pass away. With all of the troubles that he faces, he just tries harder in basketball. "I will never have that much money. "You will when you play in the NBA." (Alexie 221) At the end of the book, Arnold realizes how much Rowdy is there for him.

Character Analysis: Arnold Spirit

  • Arnold Spirit has a physical appearance of being tall and lanky. He is poor so he wears cheap clothing. Arnold is Native American so he has tan skin and dark brown hair that is almost black. "Those white kids couldn't believe their eyes. They stared at me like I was Bigfoot or UFO." (Alexie 56) He was born with water in his brain so he has an irregular shaped head.
  • Arnold Spirit is usually positive so he has quality personality traits. He is smart because he wanted a better life so he went to a new school. Arnold is pretty humorous around his friends like Rowdy and Gordy. He is creative because he makes comics and draws a lot.
  • Arnold is very involved in his school. He participates in his school's basketball team. In fact, he is probably the best player on the team. He likes drawing. He actually seems to enjoy school. Arnold also likes video games.


Arnold Spirit faced man vs. society conflicts. People would judge him for being Native American. People often thought that Native Americans were "drunks" or "wild animals". Arnold was just an average boy that enjoyed playing basketball and drawing. He acted just like a normal person. He didn't act any different because he was Native American. For example, "What kind of job can a reservation Indian boy get?" (Alexie 10) People in Arnold's society treated Indian different by giving them less privileges like, education, jobs, etc. Arnold overcame this conflict by ignoring what other people say about him. He took chances and once people actually got to know him, they really liked him.
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The overall theme is this book is, "New changes in your life can be hard at first but have great outcomes." I believe this theme goes good with the book because at first Arnold Spirit wasn't sure if he should take the chance and go to a new school. He knew that the school would be better for his education but he wasn't sure because it was a white school. Something that you can take away from this theme is that you should try new things because it keeps you involved in life.

Textual Evidence:

One part of the book that really stood out to me was at the beginning of the book when Arnold's dog named Oscar died. His dog was sick and his family had to put the dog down because the vet bills were too high. Arnold thinks that since he is Native American, he was born into poverty which led them not being able to save Oscar. For example, "But I can't blame my parents for our poverty because my mother and father are the twin suns around which I orbit and my world would EXPLODE without them." (Alexie 11) I was surprised that he believed his dog dying went all the way back to his race. My favorite quote from the book is "So what was I doing in racist Reardan, where more than half of every graduating class went to college? Nobody in my family had ever gone near a college." (Alexie 56) This is my favorite quote because I thought that it was crazy that Arnold took the chances that most Native Americans didn't take. He thought that only whites could go to the nice school but he went anyway to make his education better. I also thought that society changed him to think that no Native Americans can go to college, but I think that he will realize that Native Americans can get good education. The book has many powerful lessons about stereotypes and racism.

Book Review:

I would give the book four out of five stars because it was a really good book. It showed people that racism is a problem. The main character- Arnold Spirit- got judged in a negative way just because he was Native American. It showed that once people got to know him, they really liked his personality. This book brought out the message that people are not defined by their looked personality. "Don't judge a book by it's cover." The only reason why I gave it a 4/5 was because some of it was disturbing. But, overall it was a good book with a great message.

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  • Vanja's Blog: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian. Digital image.Vanja's Blog. Vanja, n.d. Web. 5 May 2016. <>.
  • Native Americans Today. Digital image. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 May 2016.
  • World Online. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 May 2016.
  • Equality. Digital image. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 May 2016
  • Stars. Digital image. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 May 2016. <http://i.imgur.com/7GaqhAI.png>.
  • "Are White People Racist? (Social Experiment)." YouTube. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 May 2016. <https://youtu.be/UpYguy3rMiU>.