The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

An Exploration of Double Consciousness in Sherman Alexie’s The Absoultely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian College

Sherman Alexie’s first young-adult novel, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, uses instances of sexuality, aggression, and profanity to expose a rawness in the cultural divide between Indians and Americans. The novel’s protagonist and narrator, Arnold “Junior” Spirit, grows up on an Indian reservation, and after throwing an antiquated geometry book at a particularly empathetic teacher, he is thrust into a a series of events that prompt him to leave the reservation so that he may reap the advantages of the outside world. As Junior navigates this transition with great humor, friendship, and innocence, he takes integral steps in identity formation. Alexie foils themes of humor and vulnerability both textually and visually to more completely explain the inherent aporia that Junior faces during this process as a cultural minority.

From the very beginning, Alexie’s novel employs a juxtaposition of humor with themes like aggression and discrimination in order to shed light on Junior’s cognitive state. For example, in chapter two — notably titled “The Black-Eye-of-the-Month Club” — Junior describes his predicament, stating, “Everybody on the rez calls me a retard about twice a day” (4). In a normal lighthearted tone, he...

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