Book Club Smore

(The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian)

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The novel “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian” is a very intriguing pick-me-up that will suck you right into the plot as soon as you start. Our main character, Arnold Spirit Junior, is a 14 year old Native to the Spokane Indian Reservation. Being born with brain damage, Arnold has a lisp and stutter, not to mention his over sized head and hands. He has a hard time fitting into his reservation, especially at school, so he decides to go to the local town’s school, Rearden. The story will take you through the troubles and highlights of Arnold’s adventure through the split world of living on the Spokane Reservation and going to school at Rearden. Like Arnold tells you, “A few folks, especially the grandmothers, thought I was a brave little dude for going to a white school. But there were a lot more people who just slammed a door in my face.” (Alexie, 79) You can tell that it’ll be a tough experience for him, and you’ll just have to read to see how he gets through it all.

Character Analysis

Like I mentioned in the summary above, the main character of "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian" is named Arnold Spirit Junior. 14 year old Arnold was born with water on the brain and severe brain damage, causing him to have a very large head, way too big for his skinny body. As Arnold tells us in the beginning of the novel, "My head was so big that little Indian skulls orbited around it. Some of the kids called me the Orbit. And other kids just called me the Globe." (Alexie, 3). Arnold also has very large hands and feet for his body, which is because Arnold almost never has enough to eat since his family is poor. He lives on the Spokane Indian Reservation, where he is taunted and beat up daily because of his differences to everyone else. To survive through all of the problems, Arnold turns to art and draws cartoons of his conflicts, friends and family, and dreams. He enjoys basketball very much, and he has a talent for it as well. He has a very good sense of humor, and usually likes to show it through his drawings. He is very smart and cunning, usually more than anyone in his class, and he's always looking for a good friend.


Although Arnold went through many conflicts throughout the book, I think the overall conflict would be character vs. society. I think this was the main conflict of the book because throughout the whole novel, Arnold has to find a way to cope with being in the world of Spokane Indian Reservation and then being in the public white school, Rearden. Two polar opposites in societies and Arnold lives with both. He is bullied at the reservation daily by almost everyone; as he says, "Everybody on the rez calls me retard about twice a day. They call me retard when they are pantsing me or stuffing my head in the toilet or just smacking me upside the head." (Alexie, 4) Arnolld also has a very tough time getting along with the people at Rearden. Everyone there just sees him as a weird, geeky, Indian, new kid that is unwanted and unwelcome. But, Arnold finds a way to solve his problem against the societies. He knows he can't help being picked on at home a lot, but at Rearden he decides to keep trying to make friends. And soon enough, he does. Even a girl named Penelope that bullied him way more than the rest of the Rearden kids, they became some of his best companions throughout the book. He makes even more friends by joining the basketball team, and showing people that he really can make a difference. Another smaller resolution Arnold turned to was his art. He puts his thoughts and feelings into his drawings of cartoons, and its his way to talk to and deal with the world. Personally, I think that this is the only reason that Arnold has been able to cope with living poorly on the Spokane Reservation.
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The photo above was drawn by the narrator himself; Arnold! He draws abut how the kids treated him the first day that he goes to Rearden. It also shows how a group of people can be very cruel, hurtful, and racist towards an individual.


In my opinion, this novel provides a variety of beneficial themes that the reader can learn from our book, but there is one that sticks above all others. "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian" really teaches us that no matter who or what gets in your way, keep trying and keep working to reach your goals so that you can live life to the fullest and the way you want to live it. I honestly think Arnold himself realizes this within the story when he says, "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, 189) When Arnold says this, he means that you should do what you love and what makes you happy if it helps you to continue on in life, and to not let anyone tell you that it's not the right thing to do. I'm glad that Arnold finally realized this, because before he did, all he thought about was what others were going to think about it and what others were going to do to him because of it. But now that Arnold comes to this conclusion, he realizes that what the others think doesn't matter; and that he should keep going on in his dreams to accomplish what he pleases. I hope that you can apply this to your own life, because I know that I surely can. It is a very inspirational theme and a very powerful thought, and it really shows you that your life is what you make it.

Textual Evidence

There are many very powerful parts of the novel, "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian." But I'll have to admit, my favorite quote of the book was when Arnold is talking about him and Rowdy, and says, "So I draw cartoons to make him happy, to give him other world to live inside. I draw his dreams. And he only talks about his dreams with me. And I only talk about my dreams with him."(120, Alexie) This quote that Arnold says really stuck out to me because it gave me a sense of hope that Arnold and Rowdy would be friends forever again, and that made me happy. It also made me feel a little emotional for Arnold because it made me realize how much this friendship really meant to him as he described how they only tell each other their dreams, and it all stays between them.

Book Review

If I was given the option to rate this book, I would give it a 5/5 star rating. I feel this way because over and over again in the story, particular parts really stuck out to me that were really relatable or had a learning experience to them. The author did an amazing job on describing the conflicts and setting through vivid description and dialogue, and I really liked how well he made the narrator sound like a 14 year old boy. The words of the plot seemed to float off the pages and play out right in front of my eyes, and I could really paint a picture on what was happening because of all the detail and the set up of the book.

Multi Media Sources:

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian Trailer (2013)


Cover of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian. Digital image.Fern-folio. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 May 2016.

You-Tube. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 May 2016.

Arnold's Drawing. Digital image. Word Press. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 May 2016.

Stop Bullying. Digital image. Word Press. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 May 2016.

It OK to be Different. Digital image. Haphazard Harmony. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 May 2016.

All Races Working Together. Digital image. Pledgett. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 May 2016.

"Take the Pledge to Stop Hate." (n.d.): n. pag. Scholastic. Web. 12 May 2016.

"Never Give Up." (n.d.): n. pag. Web. 11 May 2016.