True Diary of a Part-time Indian

by Sherman Alexie


The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is a book about a fourteen year old named Arnold Spirit and his struggle to escape the rez. Arnold is an Indian who wants more in life than to be depressed and drunk like every other Indian out there. He wants to travel the world and be a cartoonist, but first he'll have to get an education. At first everybody picks on Arnold mercilessly, but when he makes the varsity basketball team things finally start to go his way. Meanwhile back at home he has to deal with various family members and friends dying on him. "We'd lost my grandmother and Eugene. How much loss were we supposed to endure?" (page 173) He loses his best friend Rowdy, but in the end they make up.

Character Analysis

Arnold Spirit, AKA Junior, is a Spokane Indian who lives on a pathetic reservation with a stutter and a lisp; he could also have a seizure at any time. He has a drunk dad, a stressed mom, a sister shut up in the basement, a cool grandma, and his only friend is a boy named Rowdy. Arnold is really smart for an Indian, but really weak for a kid who grew up surrounded by fights. Arnold said, "So I draw because I feel like it might be my only real chance to escape the reservation," (Alexie 6). Arnold is an adventurous spirit that wants to leave the rez when he grows up and travel the world.


The conflict of this story is character vs. self and society. On the first hand he is having a lot of his family die and that's character vs. self. It's this because he has to move on from the tragedies, from Oscar being put down to having his best friend Rowdy hate him. On the other hand it could also be character vs. society because he is trying to make his way in an anti-Indian world. Sherman wrote, "So mostly they called me names. Lots of names," (Alexie page 63). But eventually he overcame his obstacles and his fears when he made the varsity basketball team at Reardan. After that people accepted him, even though he was an Indian, and he eventually became friends with Rowdy again.


The theme of "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" is "You must persistently follow your dreams in order to create a great life for yourself." In this book Arnold learned that some people are fighters and will always pursue their dreams, even when the times get rough. Alexie wrote, "All these kids have given up," he said. "All your friends. All the bullies. And their mothers and fathers have given up, too. And their grandparents gave up and their grandparents before them. And me and every other teacher here. We're all defeated," (Alexie page 42). However others will just give up when the tiniest things go wrong. When Arnold sees just how many have given up he refuses to do so himself.

Textual Evidence

Alexie wrote, "Ninety percent of me wanted to take the break. But I knew if I took that break I would never make the team. "I'll take him on again," I said," (Alexie page 140). This is my favorite quote from this book because it shows that if you what something badly you can't take a break from pursuing your goals. Persistence even when faced with failure is Arnold Spirit's best quality.

Book Review

I give this book four out of five stars. I give it this rating because it was really easy to read and sounded like a teenager wrote it. The book is actually short but was still able to give us a clear picture of Arnold's every day life. The only reason I didn't rate it five stars is because I save the five star rating for books I choose for myself.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian Trailer (2013)


"The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian Trailer (2013)." YouTube.
YouTube, 21 May 2013. Web. 12 May 2016. <


Alexie, Sherman. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Illus. Ellen
Forney. N.p.: n.p., 2007. Print.

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