The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Grandmother Spirit Character Analysis

Junior’s grandmother. (The text identifies her as Junior’s mother’s mother, although there seems to be a small discrepancy here: Grandmother’s last name is Spirit, the same as Junior’s, whereas his mother’s maiden name is Adams.) Junior is close to his grandmother, and turns to her for advice when he believes Roger is going to attack him. To Junior, Grandmother’s greatest gift is tolerance, part of an “old-time-Indian spirit” that celebrates weirdness rather than fearing it and approaches new people and experiences with a fair and open mind. She also doesn’t drink, since she believes alcohol would dull her experience of the world. She is “powwow-famous,” beloved by everyone who knows her, and after she dies about two thousand people, Indian and white, come to her funeral. Her last act is to ask her family to forgive Gerald, the drunk driver who killed her.

Grandmother Spirit 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 Grandmother Spirit or refer to Grandmother Spirit. 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 numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Little, Brown and Company edition of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian published in 2009.
Chapter 22 Quotes

I mean, the thing is, plenty of Indians have died because they were drunk. And plenty of drunken Indians have killed other drunken Indians.
But my grandmother had never drunk alcohol in her life. Not one drop. That’s the rarest kind of Indian in the world.

Related Characters: Junior (Arnold Spirit, Jr.) (speaker), Grandmother Spirit
Page Number: 158
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 29 Quotes

I would always love Rowdy. And I would always miss him, too. Just as I would always love and miss my grandmother, my big sister, and Eugene.
Just as I would always love and miss my reservation and my tribe.
I hoped and prayed that they would someday forgive me for leaving them.
I hoped and prayed that I would someday forgive myself for leaving them.

Related Characters: Junior (Arnold Spirit, Jr.) (speaker), Rowdy, Mary Runs Away, Grandmother Spirit, Eugene
Page Number: 230
Explanation and Analysis:

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

The timeline below shows where the character Grandmother Spirit 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 9 - Grandmother Gives Me Some Advice
Identity, Belonging, and Coming-of-Age Theme Icon
Confessions, Revenge, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
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... (full context)
Chapter 13 - My Sister Sends Me an E-Mail
Racism, Poverty, and Alcoholism Theme Icon
Hope, Dreams, and Loss Theme Icon
Drawing, Writing, and Junior’s Cartoons Theme Icon
...seem more successful economically. Mary tells Junior that she ordered Indian fry bread like their grandmother’s in a hotel on her honeymoon, and describes her new life as “a dream come... (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 eating contest... (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
...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 parents because... (full context)
Identity, Belonging, and Coming-of-Age Theme Icon
Racism, Poverty, and Alcoholism Theme Icon
Confessions, Revenge, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...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 was her tolerance, an “old-time Indian spirit” of forgiving... (full context)
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
Grandmother was always open-minded, loved meeting new people, and was famous at powwows simply for being... (full context)
Racism, Poverty, and Alcoholism Theme Icon
Confessions, Revenge, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Hope, Dreams, and Loss Theme Icon
The surgeon who works on Grandmother when she is brought to the emergency room tells Junior’s family that her last words... (full context)
Racism, Poverty, and Alcoholism Theme Icon
Hope, Dreams, and Loss Theme Icon
Drawing, Writing, and Junior’s Cartoons Theme Icon
To Junior, the fact that his grandmother was killed by a drunk driver is especially ironic because although many Indians die because... (full context)
Chapter 23 – Wake
Identity, Belonging, and Coming-of-Age Theme Icon
Overlapping Opposites Theme Icon
Confessions, Revenge, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Hope, Dreams, and Loss Theme Icon
When Grandmother’s wake is held three days later, almost two thousand Indians attend. Out of respect for... (full context)
Overlapping Opposites Theme Icon
Hope, Dreams, and Loss Theme Icon
...be moved onto the football field—a “crazy and fun and sad” send-off that Junior knows Grandmother would have loved. (full context)
Identity, Belonging, and Coming-of-Age Theme Icon
Racism, Poverty, and Alcoholism Theme Icon
Confessions, Revenge, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...feeling guilty for years about keeping it. While Junior wonders why Ted has chosen his grandmother’s funeral for this confession, Ted explains that he learned from an anthropologist that the outfit... (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
...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 of celebration, with a picnic and... (full context)
Chapter 29 - Talking About Turtles
Identity, Belonging, and Coming-of-Age Theme Icon
Confessions, Revenge, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Hope, Dreams, and Loss Theme Icon
Drawing, Writing, and Junior’s Cartoons Theme Icon
...feels he will always love and miss Rowdy, just as he will always miss his grandmother, Mary, Eugene, his reservation, and his tribe. He hopes and prays that they will one... (full context)