The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

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Gordy Character Analysis

Junior’s friend and the “class genius” at the Reardan school, who loves computers and books. Described as “an eighty-year-old literature professor trapped in the body of a fifteen-year-old” white farm boy from Reardan, Gordy teaches Junior how to take books seriously and also draw joy from them. He is “an extremely weird dude” and also the smartest person Junior has ever known.

Gordy 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 Gordy or refer to Gordy. 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 27 Quotes

Gordy gave me this book by a Russian dude named Tolstoy, who wrote: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Well, I hate to argue with a Russian genius, but Tolstoy didn’t know Indians. And he didn’t know that all Indian families are unhappy for the same exact reason: the fricking booze.

Related Characters: Junior (Arnold Spirit, Jr.) (speaker), Gordy
Page Number: 200
Explanation and Analysis:

Throughout the book, Junior has experienced unbelievable hardship due to the rampant alcohol abuse in his community. This passage comes right before Junior reveals one more tragedy, the alcohol-related death of his sister. While Gordy looks to Tolstoy for illumination on the things that make families unhappy, Junior has firsthand experience that leads him to a different conclusion.

His statement that alcohol is what makes all families unhappy shows how pervasive this problem is on the rez, which is especially heartbreaking because alcoholism is a much more tangible and preventable problem than, say, general marital malaise, which might be Gordy's experience of unhappiness in families. This passage fits with Junior's insistence on being very concrete about goals and problems, and very frank about the state of the world. Junior has no patience for euphemism, and, just as he doesn't respect goals that are so vague and lofty as to be unachievable, he doesn't respect vague assessments of a problem that he considers, in reality, to be very specific. 

There is also a sense in which one can read Tolstoy's assertion as racist or classist. Junior is suggesting that all unhappy families can be unhappy in their own ways when those families are privileged (such as the rich Russian families that Tolstoy was writing about). Families mired in poverty and despair can't afford, or manage, to be unhappy except in the same way: because of the misery exacted by poverty and racism.

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

The timeline below shows where the character Gordy 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 12 - Slouching Toward Thanksgiving
Identity, Belonging, and Coming-of-Age Theme Icon
Racism, Poverty, and Alcoholism Theme Icon
Furious at being contradicted, Mr. Dodge belittles Junior’s education from the rez, and calls on Gordy, the “class genius,” to explain the truth. When Gordy confirms that Junior’s explanation is correct,... (full context)
Identity, Belonging, and Coming-of-Age Theme Icon
Racism, Poverty, and Alcoholism Theme Icon
Junior tries to thank Gordy for standing up for him, but Gordy just says that he did it for science.... (full context)
Identity, Belonging, and Coming-of-Age Theme Icon
Overlapping Opposites Theme Icon
Hope, Dreams, and Loss Theme Icon
...turn by Mary’s dramatic act, Junior decides to face up to a confrontation and asks Gordy to be his friend. In their initial conversation, both Gordy and Junior annoy each other—Gordy... (full context)
Overlapping Opposites Theme Icon
Hope, Dreams, and Loss Theme Icon
Drawing, Writing, and Junior’s Cartoons Theme Icon
Gordy teaches Junior how to read books: first for the story; then for the words, taking... (full context)
Chapter 16 - Rowdy Gives Me Advice About Love
Overlapping Opposites Theme Icon
Racism, Poverty, and Alcoholism Theme Icon
Junior asks Gordy for advice, and Gordy Googles “in love with a white girl,” finding an article about... (full context)
Chapter 18 - Don't Trust Your Computer
Identity, Belonging, and Coming-of-Age Theme Icon
Overlapping Opposites Theme Icon
Confessions, Revenge, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Hope, Dreams, and Loss Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Identity, Belonging, and Coming-of-Age Theme Icon
Overlapping Opposites Theme Icon
Gordy says that “life is a constant struggle between being an individual and being a member... (full context)
Chapter 22 - Red Versus White
Identity, Belonging, and Coming-of-Age Theme Icon
Racism, Poverty, and Alcoholism Theme Icon
Confessions, Revenge, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Junior thinks the best thing about Reardan is Penelope—as well as Gordy, maybe—and the best thing about Wellpinit was his grandmother. He thinks his grandmother’s greatest gift... (full context)
Chapter 24 - Valentine Heart
Identity, Belonging, and Coming-of-Age Theme Icon
Racism, Poverty, and Alcoholism Theme Icon
Confessions, Revenge, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Hope, Dreams, and Loss Theme Icon
From Gordy, Junior gets a book with what seems like a good definition of his grief: Euripides’... (full context)
Identity, Belonging, and Coming-of-Age Theme Icon
Overlapping Opposites Theme Icon
To show his support for Junior, Gordy stands and drops his textbook, leading the rest of the class to do the same.... (full context)
Chapter 27 - Because Russian Guys Are Not Always Geniuses
Identity, Belonging, and Coming-of-Age Theme Icon
Racism, Poverty, and Alcoholism Theme Icon
Hope, Dreams, and Loss Theme Icon
Drawing, Writing, and Junior’s Cartoons Theme Icon
...been to more than five. He also disagrees with the Tolstoy quote he gets from Gordy about unhappy families, since “all Indian families are unhappy for the same exact reason: the... (full context)
Chapter 29 - Talking About Turtles
Identity, Belonging, and Coming-of-Age Theme Icon
Hope, Dreams, and Loss Theme Icon
...friends—Penelope, whom he’s written three love letters although she hasn’t written one in return yet; Gordy, who wants to come to the rez and stay with Junior for a week or... (full context)