Has the world ever crumbled under your feet throwing you down a one-way path? In the novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Sherman Alexie creates two Native settings which cause the protagonist to change and adapt to his new surroundings. As a kid growing up in the Rez, Junior always wanted to be a cartoonist as he believes, “it is the only way [He] can become rich and famous.” After living in the reservation Junior realizes that in order to achieve his dreams he must move away. Alexie writes “90% of the deaths have been because of alcohol.” In the Rez, all the adults were drunks, many who had a bright future, but all diminished at the foot of alcohol. Junior could see that if he was to carry on his life at the Reservation, he would be in the exact same shoe as the others. So in order to achieve his dreams, Junior courageously left the Rez and went to Reardan. Arriving at Reardan Junior faced a new set of problems. Although drinking was no longer prevalent, the theme of bullying and racism appeared. A tall boy called Roger began to pick on him as Junior was the only native American at the school. “Did you know Indians are living proof that niggers fuck buffalo?” This was the most racist remark made by Roger, which provoked Junior to punch him in the face, as this was the only method of solving conflicts which Junior knew about. Immediately after arriving, poverty became eminent to Junior. “[Junior’s Family] doesn’t have money for Oscar.” At the beginning of the novel, Junior’s pet dog was sick and eventually died. The author showed how poor the family was by portraying the price of a bullet as two cents, while the vet fee as a number which Junior’s parents could only dream of. Being poor was a large problem for Junior since “Poverty doesn’t give your strength or teach you lessons about perseverance. No, poverty only teaches you to be poor.” Surrounded by wealthy friends, Junior has no choice but to lie about his financial dilemma. Like money, Junior at first lacked friendship. Alexie writes “So I stood on the sidewalk and watched my father drive away.” The theme of loneliness was conspicuous since the protagonist is alone at his new school with no one there to welcome him. This was the first time anyone had left the Rez to go learn at a school filled with white children.
Junior’s plight can even be observed at our school. Every year, ISB takes in many new students, bringing new faces and new cultures. Like Junior, all the students struggle in one way or another to not only keep their identity while also satisfying the needs of the community. As Junior moved to Reardan he realized that certain things that worked in the Reservation did not work in Reardan, which caused him to adapt and change to his surrounding environment.