Nobody. Traitor. Retard. Names given to a boy in a town of discrimination. How would you act if you were born different than others? How would you act if everyone treated you like garbage?
In the novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, the author, Sherman Alexie, creates a protagonist who is shaped by the setting, people, and his unique features and traits. The author then makes the protagonist into a dynamic character, by making him go through change later on in the story. The protagonist, Arnold spirit (or “Junior” to his family and peers), is a bit of an outcast to his community. He was born with “water on the brain”, meaning he had too much cerebral fluid in his head. He was a skinny person but had huge hands and feet, with his feet being “a size eleven in third grade.” Due to his unique features, he was constantly bullied by other people in the Spokane Indian Reservation, by both kids and adults: “He knew I was afraid of getting beat up” and “Oh, by the way, did I mention that the Andruss triplets are thirty years old? What kind of men beat up a fourteen-year old boy?” He also has a stutter and a lisp. In the exposition, we discover Junior talks in a bit of a sadistic and mocking tone, but has a caring and artistic side as well. However, this side of him gets pushed down from the bullying he endures. Junior enjoys drawing, thinking that “[he] draw[s] because words are too limited” and “[he] want[s] the world to pay attention to [him].” As the setting of the story changes, Junior’s personality and actions change as well. As he moves to a white school, he expects things to be the same as the reservation, but he was clearly mistaken. Alexie states, “I was absolutely confused. I had followed the rules of fighting. I had behaved exactly the way I was supposed to behave. But these white boys had ignored the rules. In fact, they followed a whole other set of mysterious rules where people apparently DID NOT GET INTO FISTFIGHTS.” Eventually, he becomes more confident in himself, and more willing to talk to people: “So I went to school the next day and walked right up to Gordy the Genius White Boy.” The character changes from someone is excluded from everyone, and is constantly bullied, to someone who is accepted, and is friends with any people. Sherman Alexie draws out a changing dynamic character for us to read.