The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

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The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Chapter 18 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Missing Rowdy, Junior emails him a photo of his smiling face, and gets a picture of Rowdy’s naked butt in return. It makes him laugh, but also makes him depressed, since he misses Rowdy’s spontaneity—the Reardan kids are too worried about their futures to do something like that. When Gordy sees, Junior tells him the story of his fight with Rowdy, and explains that the Indians think he’s a traitor for leaving the reservation.
Ironically, the photo Rowdy sends as an insult is also a reminder of what Junior loves about him. Since the Reardan kids don’t act that way, the cultural differences between Wellpinit and Reardan also come up again, as does another confession—Junior admitting his banishment.
Themes
Identity, Belonging, and Coming-of-Age Theme Icon
Overlapping Opposites Theme Icon
Confessions, Revenge, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Hope, Dreams, and Loss Theme Icon
Gordy says that “life is a constant struggle between being an individual and being a member of the community,” and that early humans only survived “because we trusted one another.” “Weird people” who didn’t conform were ostracized because they were a threat to the strength of the tribe. Both Junior and Gordy are weird people who have been ostracized, and so, Junior declares, they have a tribe of two. He wants to hug Gordy, but Gordy tells him not to get sentimental, causing Junior to reflect that “even the weird boys are afraid of their emotions.”
Gordy offers a sociological explanation for why Junior feels like he doesn’t belong, and for why his tribe is rejecting him. The “tribe of two” illustrates the important idea—central to Junior’s climactic “revelation” at the end of the novel—that just because you can’t be part of one “tribe” doesn’t mean you don’t belong somewhere else. Meanwhile, illustrating the same point, Junior and Gordy still obey the standards of “manliness” that won’t let them hug—they may be weird in some respects, but they conform like everyone else in their “tribe” in others.
Themes
Identity, Belonging, and Coming-of-Age Theme Icon
Overlapping Opposites Theme Icon