The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Symbols, Allegory and Motifs

Corners (Symbol)

Mary tells Junior that his habit of sleeping while squeezed into corners is symbolic of his desire to return to his mother's womb. Even though huddling in corners makes Junior feel safe, he is squeamish about the image of being inside the womb and changes his sleeping position. 

Flying White Horse (Symbol)

Junior draws a flying white horse in his diary to symbolize hope. It is an imaginary creature, meaning that he can only speculate what it feels like to have hope. Additionally, it is white, which underlines Junior's belief that hope is a luxury that only white people have. 

Romance Novels (Symbol)

Mary's interest in romance novels are symbolic of her life choices. One she sees Junior going off the reservation to chase his dreams of higher education, she decides to live out her own fantasy of having a whirlwind romance, much like what might happen in a romance novel. She writes enthusiastic letters to Junior idealizing her life in Montana, even calling her run-down trailer home "the most gorgeous place in the world!" (134). 

Alien (Symbol)

Junior often refers to himself an alien, which is symbolic of his alienation. After going to Reardan, he is not comfortable being around his former friends on the reservation or his new classmates. Being friends with Rowdy and Gordy helps him overcome these feelings, but he knows that he will always be straddling these two worlds. 

Dances With Wolves (Allegory)

In his drawing of Billionaire Ted, Junior notes that some of Billionaire Ted's clothes are collectables from the Kevin Costner film Dances with Wolves. When it was released in 1990, Dances With Wolves enjoyed wide critical acclaim from American critics and audiences, even winning the Academy Award for Best Picture. However, many Lakota tribespeople have spoken against the film, claiming that it portrays their culture stereotypically and inaccurately to create a more compelling story for Costner's "White Savior" character. The controversy surrounding Dances with Wolves serves as an allegory for the way that Billionaire Ted sees Indian culture - he believes that by collecting their art and visiting their reservation, he truly understands their plight.