The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

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The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Chapter 9 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Although Junior is terrified that Roger will come after him and kill him, his grandmother reassures him that Roger probably just wanted to see what the new kid was made of—the fact that he walked away probably means he respects Junior now. Still, Junior is unconvinced.
As Grandmother points out, Junior’s move to a new school gives him a chance to redefine his place in the high school hierarchy. However, Junior still thinks there’s no way his peers could respect him, and he assumes that people always want revenge at any cost.
Themes
Identity, Belonging, and Coming-of-Age Theme Icon
Confessions, Revenge, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Because his parents don’t have enough gas in the car to drive him, Junior gets a ride to school from his dad’s best friend Eugene, who rides a motorcycle. When they arrive at school on the motorcycle—to the amazed stares of Junior’s white classmates—Eugene tells Junior that what he is doing is cool, adding “I could never do it. I’m a wuss.” Junior feels proud.
Junior realizes that being different in each of his communities—an Indian who rides a motorcycle and goes to a white school—can also make him special. Eugene’s comment underscores the bravery of Junior’s choice to pursue his dreams, which is especially important to Junior because he has always thought of himself as weak.
Themes
Identity, Belonging, and Coming-of-Age Theme Icon
Hope, Dreams, and Loss Theme Icon
At the front door, Junior runs into Roger and thinks he will have to fight. “My whole life is a fight,” he adds. Instead, Roger acts cordial and compliments Eugene’s bike, an act of respect that makes Junior feel “almost like a human being.”
This is one example of a revenge fight that actually succeeds. It does because Junior’s actions are justified and because Roger lets it end while they’re even, without pursuing any further revenge. Respecting Junior as a person who has feelings goes a long way towards counteracting the dehumanizing beliefs that Roger expressed before.
Themes
Identity, Belonging, and Coming-of-Age Theme Icon
Racism, Poverty, and Alcoholism Theme Icon
Confessions, Revenge, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Junior’s relief and happiness at having earned Roger’s respect gives him the courage to greet Penelope when he sees her a moment later. However, she snubs him and then calls him “the boy who can’t figure out his own name.” Once again, Junior feels ashamed of himself.
Penelope’s comment goes beyond just Junior’s name. His uncertainty over whether to introduce himself as Junior or Arnold—his Indian name or his white name—reflects his struggle to define himself and his sense of being caught between his two communities.
Themes
Identity, Belonging, and Coming-of-Age Theme Icon
Overlapping Opposites Theme Icon
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