Theme: Moral Struggle and Search for Identity
Topics: Spokane Indians, Indian Reservations, Alcoholism, Cartoonist, Prejudice/Racism
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
by Sherman Alexie
- Age Range: 12 and up
- Grade Level: 7 and up
- Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (April 1, 2009)
- Language: English
Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author's own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings that reflect the character's art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he thought he was destined to live.
Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian
Study and Discussion Questions
After reading the book answer these questions fully and completely. During the first week of school we will have a Socratic Book Discussion about the summer reading.
- What do Arnold's drawings tell us that his writing does not?
- What is the relationship between pictures and words?
- Would you have left the reservation?
- What does it mean for Arnold to be a "part-time" Indian?
- Do you think of yourself as a "part-time" something? What? And why?
- Arnold asks his parents: "Who has the most hope?" (6.7).
- What do you think?
- Why is it so important to have hope?
- What do you think will happen to Arnold after he finishes high school? (Now check out Sherman Alexie's bio. After all, Alexie has said that Arnold is, more or less, based on him.)
- Arnold makes a list of all the different tribes he belongs to (29.31-29.43). What tribes do you belong to?
- Are you multi-tribal like Arnold?
- How do Arnold's drawings of himself change over the course of the novel?
- Why does Rowdy call Junior a nomad (30.182)?
- What does it mean to be a nomad?
- Do you think this is a positive thing?
- What is the last picture that Arnold draws?
- Why is it so important?