Junior enjoys Thanksgiving with his mom, dad, and grandmother, but misses Rowdy because he always used to come over for a pumpkin-pie eating contest with Junior. Junior draws a cartoon of the two of them “like we used to be”—as a pair of superheroes with matching costumes, bumping fists—and brings it to Rowdy’s house.
Junior’s cartoon shows him and Rowdy not only as a team, but also as superheroes. Rowdy isn’t purely an advocate for “bone-crushing reality”—in fact, the friendship in which nothing seemed insurmountable as long as Rowdy and Junior were friends was just another shared dream world, one that Junior gave up for a more practical pursuit of his ambitions.
Rowdy’s dad answers the door and says Rowdy isn’t home. He looks at Junior’s cartoon and calls it “kind of gay,” but promises to give it to Rowdy. Junior wants to curse at Rowdy’s dad and tell him he thinks he is being courageous in trying to fix their friendship, but refrains from saying anything.
Junior chooses to tolerate Rowdy’s dad’s comments rather than fight back openly and express his true feelings. This is strategically necessary to make sure Rowdy’s dad delivers the message, so in some ways it shows Junior’s maturity and judgment, but it is also another example of how “reservation Junior”—the “human target” who never fights back—is still unable to stand up for himself.
As he walks away from the house, Junior sees Rowdy holding the cartoon and watching him sadly from an upstairs window. When Junior waves, Rowdy flips him off, but Junior is happy that at least Rowdy hasn’t ripped up his cartoon: it means that Rowdy must still respect him a little.
Junior feels his cartoons are an extension of himself. Rowdy’s choice not to take his revenge out on the cartoon suggest that he feels the same way, although he arguably respects the cartoon more than Junior himself, since it shows a dream of Rowdy’s as well. Despite the middle finger, this interaction still seems like a sign of respect and caring for Junior—one of the many contradictory aspects of Rowdy and Junior’s friendship.