The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Imagery

Penelope's Skin

Junior has a crush on Penelope, and his physical descriptions of her are often focused on the whiteness of her skin. By emphasizing Penelope's race, Alexie shows that it is a major part of the reason for Junior's attraction to her. "I watched her like she was a work of art," Junior muses as he observes Penelope playing volleyball, "She was wearing a white shirt and white shorts, and I could see the outlines of her white bra and white panties. Her skin was pale white. Milky white. Cloud white. So she was all white on white on white, like the most perfect kind of vanilla dessert cake you've ever seen" (115). 

The Indians turn their backs on Junior

Alexie uses aural and visual imagery to underline the unity amongst the Indians when they turn their backs on Junior, a "former" tribe member. When Junior accompanies the Reardan team into the Wellpinit gym, it goes "...silent. Absolutely quiet. My fellow tribal members saw me and they all stopped cheering, talking, moving. I think they all stopped breathing. And then, as one, they all turned their backs on me. It was a fricking awesome display of contempt" (144). This widespread rejection drives home the fact that Junior is the only one of his tribe to have enough innate ambition to try to make a better life for himself, but it also makes the reader understand how difficult it has been for Junior to choose a different path than most of the people in his community.  

Junior's Dad's Christmas Gift

When Junior's dad does not have enough money for Christmas gifts, he runs away to get drunk. He returns after New Year's Eve, hung over and apologetic, and tells Junior that there is something for him in his boot. Junior describes the boot as smelling like "booze and fear and failure" and inside, he finds a "wrinkled and damp five-dollar bill" (151). Alexie uses olfactory and visual imagery to evoke the pathetic nature of this scene. The imagery also emphasizes that within this beer and shame-soaked reality, there are many hidden little gifts that help Junior to maintain his faith in the world. 

Penelope's Builima

Junior overhears someone vomiting up his or her food in the bathroom. He then describes the "lovely Penelope" coming out of the bathroom "chomping hard on cinnamon gum." Junior can tell that Penelope has "tried to cover the smell of vomit with the biggest piece of cinnamon gum in the world," but she has failed, and Junior thinks she smells "like somebody vomited on a big old cinnamon tree" (106). This is an example of olfactory imagery, and reveals that beneath her pristine white exterior, Penelope is vulnerable. She cannot always cover up her weaknesses, no matter how hard she tries.