The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

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Travel Symbol Analysis

Travel Symbol Icon
In this coming-of-age novel, traveling is a symbol for growing up. Mary breaks out of her “frozen” state by moving to Montana to live in a mobile home. Penelope’s idea of adulthood and freedom involves a plan “to swim in every ocean … to climb Mount Everest … to go on an African safari … to ride a dogsled in Antarctica.” Gordy uses the language of travel to talk about life, saying books and comics can help to “navigate the river of the world.” And a cartoon inserted after Mr. P tells Junior to leave the reservation shows Junior standing by a road sign, beginning a journey from “Home” toward “Hope” and “???” Just as growing up means leaving the safe, known, comforting world of childhood, traveling means leaving home behind to explore unknown places. Thus, when Rowdy wishes Junior happiness in his nomadic travels, he means it literally, but also symbolically; Junior has passed out of the childhood they shared, and into a life of his own.
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Travel Symbol Timeline in The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

The timeline below shows where the symbol Travel 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 15 - Hunger Pains
Identity, Belonging, and Coming-of-Age Theme Icon
Hope, Dreams, and Loss Theme Icon
...leave her hometown that she was “born with a suitcase” and that she wants to travel around the world to see “every single piece of everything.” He tells her it’s hard... (full context)