The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

“A Time of Togetherness”: How Alexie Sherman and Velma Wallis use Christmas to Present Contemporary Native American Issues College

The difficulty for most contemporary Native American authors is how to present their work to a populace who is not entirely familiar with the modern Indian situation and lifestyle. One way that Alexie Sherman and Velma Wallis achieve this in their books The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian and Raising Ourselves is by presenting their tales alongside the almost universally-known holiday of Christmas. The average, middle-class, American reader is then able to compare his own vision of the holiday to Alexie and Wallis’ more dismal version, thus making the author’s point clearer through the stunning contrasts between the reader’s perceptions and the author’s perceptions of the same event. The reader’s idea that Christmas is a peaceful holiday filled with family and good times conflicts with the Indian view that Christmas is a time of discord and alcohol abuse. Alexie and Wallis use this strategy of twisting a well-known holiday into something the common reader no longer recognizes in order to better show the issues faced by modern Indians, such as alcoholism and familial troubles.

Alexie describes Christmas as an event that separates family members rather than brings them together as a result of alcohol’s influence. In ...

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