Literature: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Imagine you're an American Indian. No, not a Memetic Badass
or Magical Native American
. No, imagine you're born with hydrocephaly, ten extra teeth, and you've had glasses since age 3. And you have a lisp and stutter even in high school. Now imagine you go to a white school. And your reservation friends hate you for it. And even there, you're smarter than the teachers.
That is the world of Arnold Spirit Jr. in Sherman Alexie
's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
- The Alcoholic: Arnold's dad. Arnold's mom is a recovering alcoholic. He comments that almost everyone on the rez is an alcoholic.
- Author Avatar: Sherman Alexie had hydrocephalus as a kid, and went to a white school.
- Badass Native: Arnold gets to be a Memetic Badass for one day.
- Baseball Episode: Technically basketball episode, but still...
- The Beautiful Elite: Penelope. Not really "evil" like they usually are, just seriously messed up.
- Berserk Button: Do not remind Arnold that he's poor.
- Brains and Brawn: Arnold and Rowdy.
- The Complainer Is Always Wrong: There's a scene in a science class that plays this straight.
- Computer Wars: Dear God, don't get Gordy started on Mac vs. PC.
- A Date with Rosie Palms: Early in the book, Junior mentions he is very good at masturbating.
- Death by Newbery Medal: Arnold's dog, father's best friend, grandmother, and romance novel loving sister do not survive the novel. Heck, the Shoot the Dog moment happened at the beginning of the novel.
- It Makes Sense in Context: Some of Arnold's drawings, including the "Pancakes of Doom," "Gordy (+ Metaphysical Boner)" and the "Invisible Mountain Gorilla Scientist."
- Kids Are Cruel: A regular theme.
- Magical Queer: Discussed, when Junior says that Indians used to think this.
- Meaningful Name: Arnold Spirit. Rowdy. Also, Mary's nickname is Mary Runs Away.
- Muscles Are Meaningless
- Nerd Glasses
- Racist Grandma: Inverted, since Arnold's grandma is the only character besides Arnold who is tolerant of homosexuals.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Rowdy is the red to Junior's blue.
- Romance Novel: Parodied with Mary's romance novels.
- Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Tautology!
- Shoot the Dog: Literally.
- Shout-Out: Euripides and Tolstoy, among others.
- Take That: Likely Ted Nugent.
- Trauma Conga Line: The death of Arnold's grandmother, followed by that of Eugene and Arnold's sister. Given that all these deaths involved alcohol and the frequency he attends funerals, he extends this one to his entire people.
- What the Hell, Dad?: Arnold Spirit Sr.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Penelope's eating disorder is mentioned once, early in her and Arnold's acquaintance, and it baffles him — then never comes up again.
- The Worf Effect: Junior punches Jerk Jock Roger and gives him a bloody nose. He expects to get his ass kicked, but Roger just stares at him in shock. His cronies are too afraid to touch the kid. Later Lampshaded by his grandma when Junior goes to her for advice.
- You Keep Using That Word: Gordy says he has a "boner" for books. However, he later reveals that he uses it to mean "joy."
Junior: Did you just think books should give me a boner?
Gordy: Yes, I did.
Junior: Are you serious?
Gordy: Yeah... Don't you get excited about books?
Junior: I don't think you're supposed to get that excited about books.