Have you ever dreamt of living a happier, more fulfilling life? The answer is, perhaps, that every person in the world would like to change something in order to be happy. However, the struggle on the way to the desired happiness is not easy enough and demands much efforts and patience. As a result, not every individual can bravely persist in their position under pressure of life. In comparison, Alexie Sherman’s book The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian represents a catching story about how a change in the individual experience transforms hero’s self-perception and identity.

The main character of Sherman’s diary, Arnold Spirit Jr., suffers severely, living in the Indian Reservation of Spokane. There, he is surrounded by alcoholism, cultural abyss between Indian and white American societies as well as discrimination. Moreover, the fact that Junior was born with water in his brain made him an object of cruel mocking on the part of his classmates and even adults. Apart from Arnold’s physical flaw, eyeglasses and imperfect speech, the boy lives like most other countrymen: in extreme poverty. Once, drawing his cartoons, he states ”I wish I could draw a jelly sandwich and make it real” (Sherman, 2007, p. 7). Besides, all Junior’s relatives are a poignant picture of how destructive life in a reservation can be. For example, Arnold’s father becomes an alcoholic because of hopelessness of his condition. Similarly, the boy’s sister, Mary, showing promise as a romance writer, spends all her time in the basement. Later, ”Mary Runs Away” is suddenly getting married and becomes an alcoholic too (Sherman, 2007, p. 23). As a result, Junior’s life in the reservation is like a vicious circle of misfortunes he is willing to break.

Despite the misery of his position, the boy manages to reconsider his self-perception and overcome the difficulties. Studying at Wellpinit High School, Junior views himself as a loser who cannot fight back, feeble, and invisible. However, the other characters regard him as a smart boy, highly committed to the idea of advancing despite the destructive influence of the reservation. For example, once, while Junior is thinking of himself as a loser trying to enroll in a new school, his father says: ”You’re so brave, you’re a warrior” (Sherman, 2007, p. 32). This way or another, such words prove to be true concerning Arnold whose voice sounds optimistic, sincere, and cheerfully all the time. Moreover, he does not stop drawing cartoons, and this hobby bolsters Arnold’s hope for a better future outside the reservation. In addition, Junior always faces the problems bravely, no matter what happens. For instance, he courageously defends himself when his peer Rodger insults him: ”You’re an animal, Rodger said. I felt brave all of a sudden” (Sherman, 2007, p. 55). Therefore, step by step, Arnold finds more and more friends at the Reardan High School, a place where he was an outsider at first too. In addition, the boy starts playing basketball, discovering his extraordinary talent, when he enrolls in the Reardan team. He also meets with approval of his coach and teammates there. However, he is doomed to suffer while playing a match against his former school team since all reservation spectators ignore him. Then again, Junior treats this situation in a humorous way. At last, Junior reconciles with his outrageous friend from the reservation named Rowdy. Both are playing basketball as a token of friendship. As a result, Arnold’s self-perception changes: he is not a loser anymore.


Sherman’s book The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian tells an optimistic story about an ambitious Native Indian boy Arnold. Living in poverty and racial discrimination does not break his will as he chooses to forward with hope. Moreover, his outstanding fighting traits help Junior change himself from a Wellpinit whipping boy to a well-respected person at the Reardan School. As a result of the newly-gained experience, the hero reconsiders his self-perception. All things change.


Sherman, A. (2007). The absolutely true diary of a part-time Indian. New York, NY: Random House.