The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

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Dad Character Analysis

Junior’s father, who sings when he gets drunk, treasures an old saxophone from high school, and could have been a talented musician. Dad is an alcoholic who will disappear for days to drink, often when—and because—there is very little money in the house. Unlike Rowdy’s father, however, he would never hit a member of his family, and mostly becomes depressed after his drinking binges. Dad’s pride in Junior is very important to him. It’s Junior’s dad who convinces him to try out for basketball, and also makes Junior realize the irony of celebrating Reardan’s win against Wellpinit.

Dad Quotes in The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

The The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian quotes below are all either spoken by Dad or refer to Dad. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Identity, Belonging, and Coming-of-Age Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Little, Brown and Company edition of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian published in 2009.
Chapter 15 Quotes

There are all kinds of addicts, I guess. We all have pain. And we all look for ways to make the pain go away.

Related Characters: Junior (Arnold Spirit, Jr.) (speaker), Dad, Penelope
Page Number: 107
Explanation and Analysis:

A big part of Junior's growth when he goes to Reardan is his growing understanding of and empathy for the white students he's in class with. Before going to Reardan, Junior had associated whiteness with perfection, possibility, and beauty, but he is beginning to see that the white students experience pain and difficulty that aren't totally dissimilar from his own. In this passage, he has just heard Penelope throwing up in the bathroom and when he confronts her about her eating disorder she says something reminiscent of the way Junior's dad talks about his alcoholism.

This is a moment of revelation for Junior in that he realizes that Penelope has pain that she is dealing with in a way that is parallel to his own father's coping mechanisms for pain, and it opens up a way for him to empathize with her. Certainly, Junior's peers at Reardan have more opportunities than the kids on the rez, but it's important for Junior to understand that this doesn't mean their lives are completely different. 

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Dad Character Timeline in The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

The timeline below shows where the character Dad appears in The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2 - Why Chicken Means So Much to Me
Racism, Poverty, and Alcoholism Theme Icon
Hope, Dreams, and Loss Theme Icon
...had paid attention to their dreams.” His mom would have gone to college, and his dad would have been a musician. He includes a cartoon of his parents’ ideal selves, with... (full context)
Identity, Belonging, and Coming-of-Age Theme Icon
Racism, Poverty, and Alcoholism Theme Icon
Hope, Dreams, and Loss Theme Icon
Junior feels this sense of defeat when he says goodbye to Oscar, before his dad shoots the dog to put him out of his misery. After all, Junior notes, “A... (full context)
Chapter 8 - How to Fight Monsters
Identity, Belonging, and Coming-of-Age Theme Icon
Racism, Poverty, and Alcoholism Theme Icon
Hope, Dreams, and Loss Theme Icon
Junior begins school at Reardan the next day. His dad tells him to remember that the white kids aren’t any better than him—which, according to... (full context)
Chapter 9 - Grandmother Gives Me Some Advice
Identity, Belonging, and Coming-of-Age Theme Icon
Hope, Dreams, and Loss Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter 12 - Slouching Toward Thanksgiving
Identity, Belonging, and Coming-of-Age Theme Icon
Overlapping Opposites Theme Icon
Racism, Poverty, and Alcoholism Theme Icon
Hope, Dreams, and Loss Theme Icon
Drawing, Writing, and Junior’s Cartoons Theme Icon
...a Flathead Indian and moved to Montana without saying goodbye to anyone. His mom and dad are “absolutely freaked”: they feel that they have now lost two kids to the outside... (full context)
Chapter 14 – Thanksgiving
Hope, Dreams, and Loss Theme Icon
Drawing, Writing, and Junior’s Cartoons Theme Icon
Junior enjoys Thanksgiving with his mom, dad, and grandmother, but misses Rowdy because he always used to come over for a pumpkin-pie... (full context)
Chapter 15 - Hunger Pains
Identity, Belonging, and Coming-of-Age Theme Icon
Racism, Poverty, and Alcoholism Theme Icon
Confessions, Revenge, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...anorexic, she’s bulimic, and only when she’s throwing up—which reminds Junior of the way his dad says he’s only an alcoholic when he’s drunk. (full context)
Identity, Belonging, and Coming-of-Age Theme Icon
Overlapping Opposites Theme Icon
Racism, Poverty, and Alcoholism Theme Icon
Confessions, Revenge, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Junior reflects that Penelope’s purging and his dad’s drinking are both forms of addiction—that everyone has pain, and that these two self-destructive acts... (full context)
Chapter 20 - Reindeer Games
Hope, Dreams, and Loss Theme Icon
Though Junior almost doesn’t go to basketball tryouts because he’s afraid of being humiliated, his dad convinces him to go, saying with uncharacteristic optimism, “You have to dream big to get... (full context)
Chapter 21 - And a Partridge in a Pear Tree
Racism, Poverty, and Alcoholism Theme Icon
When Christmas Eve comes, Junior’s family doesn’t have enough money for presents. Junior’s dad is so depressed that—as he always does when there isn’t enough money—he takes the money... (full context)
Identity, Belonging, and Coming-of-Age Theme Icon
Overlapping Opposites Theme Icon
Racism, Poverty, and Alcoholism Theme Icon
Confessions, Revenge, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
When Dad gets home, he does nothing but lie on his bed. He tells Junior he’s sorry... (full context)
Overlapping Opposites Theme Icon
Racism, Poverty, and Alcoholism Theme Icon
Confessions, Revenge, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Dad tells Junior he got him something and tells him to look inside one of his... (full context)
Chapter 22 - Red Versus White
Identity, Belonging, and Coming-of-Age Theme Icon
Overlapping Opposites Theme Icon
Racism, Poverty, and Alcoholism Theme Icon
...family to the families of his white classmates. He loves Mary and his mom and dad and grandmother. In spite of their flaws, he believes his mom and dad are good... (full context)
Chapter 24 - Valentine Heart
Identity, Belonging, and Coming-of-Age Theme Icon
Overlapping Opposites Theme Icon
Racism, Poverty, and Alcoholism Theme Icon
Hope, Dreams, and Loss Theme Icon
...gave Penelope a homemade Valentine (and she said she forgot it was Valentine’s Day), my dad’s best friend, Eugene, was shot in the face in the parking lot of a 7-Eleven... (full context)
Racism, Poverty, and Alcoholism Theme Icon
Hope, Dreams, and Loss Theme Icon
Drawing, Writing, and Junior’s Cartoons Theme Icon
In grief, Junior’s Dad goes on a drinking binge, Mom goes to church every day, and Junior draws and... (full context)
Chapter 25 - In Like a Lion
Identity, Belonging, and Coming-of-Age Theme Icon
Confessions, Revenge, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Hope, Dreams, and Loss Theme Icon
...and deciding the fate of the game. The crowd is amazed—Junior’s mom faints, and his dad hugs and kisses the white guy next to him even though they don’t know each... (full context)
Chapter 27 - Because Russian Guys Are Not Always Geniuses
Overlapping Opposites Theme Icon
Hope, Dreams, and Loss Theme Icon
...what to say to Junior and asks him to wait in her office for his father. Junior runs outside away from her, into the snow. As he waits, he becomes terrified... (full context)
Racism, Poverty, and Alcoholism Theme Icon
Hope, Dreams, and Loss Theme Icon
Junior’s dad explains that Mary and her husband had a big party in their trailer and passed... (full context)
Overlapping Opposites Theme Icon
Racism, Poverty, and Alcoholism Theme Icon
Hope, Dreams, and Loss Theme Icon
Dad tries to comfort Junior by telling him that Mary was too drunk to feel any... (full context)
Identity, Belonging, and Coming-of-Age Theme Icon
Hope, Dreams, and Loss Theme Icon
...wakes up just as the car is pulling up at the house and tells his dad about the dream. Junior’s father remembers how scared the family was: they had to take... (full context)
Identity, Belonging, and Coming-of-Age Theme Icon
Hope, Dreams, and Loss Theme Icon
Junior’s dad begins to cry, and can’t stop even though he is trying, Junior guesses, to be... (full context)
Racism, Poverty, and Alcoholism Theme Icon
Hope, Dreams, and Loss Theme Icon
When Dad and Junior walk inside, the house is full of family. Junior’s mom pulls him into... (full context)
Chapter 28 - My Final Freshman Year Report Card
Identity, Belonging, and Coming-of-Age Theme Icon
Overlapping Opposites Theme Icon
Racism, Poverty, and Alcoholism Theme Icon
Hope, Dreams, and Loss Theme Icon
...the end of the school year, Junior goes to the cemetery with his mom and dad to clean the graves of Grandmother Spirit, Eugene, and Mary. They make it a day... (full context)
Chapter 29 - Talking About Turtles
Overlapping Opposites Theme Icon
Racism, Poverty, and Alcoholism Theme Icon
Confessions, Revenge, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Hope, Dreams, and Loss Theme Icon
...of the legends surrounding it, such as the story of Stupid Horse. According to Junior’s dad, the horse (so named because it was so stupid) drowned in the lake one day,... (full context)