The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Basketball Symbol Icon
For Junior, who has grown up knowing that his race and his poverty, not to mention his physical disability, have put him at a disadvantage in the world—being, as he puts it, “a loser Indian son living in a world built for winners”—basketball represents a much fairer, meritocratic system in which everyone starts off equally and people succeed thanks to their own hard work and skill. Unlike the wider world, where a smart woman like Junior’s mom or a great basketball player like Eugene can’t go to college because they can’t afford the tuition and don’t have the preliminary education to get there, and unlike the classroom, where Mr. Dodge ignores Junior’s contribution because he’s Indian, the basketball court is a place where Junior’s commitment and shooting talent make him one of the most valuable players on the team, even though he is shorter and skinnier than all the other boys. It’s when he’s playing basketball that Junior hears and believes the words “You can do it”—this is one place where all his hopes and dreams really are within his reach. Meanwhile, the excitement people feel over basketball transcends class and race—Junior’s dad hugs and kisses the white man next to him “like they were brothers” after Junior’s big three-pointer against Wellpinit—and Coach pledges to treat all of his players with dignity and respect, directly counter to forces like poverty and racism that specifically deny people those qualities.

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

The The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian quotes below all refer to the symbol of Basketball. 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 25 Quotes

We had defeated the enemy! We had defeated the champions! We were David who’d thrown a stone into the brain of Goliath!
And then I realized something.
I realized that my team, the Reardan Indians, was Goliath.

Related Characters: Junior (Arnold Spirit, Jr.) (speaker)
Related Symbols: Basketball
Page Number: 195
Explanation and Analysis:

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Basketball Symbol Timeline in The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

The timeline below shows where the symbol Basketball 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 4 - Because Geometry Is Not a Country Somewhere Near France
Identity, Belonging, and Coming-of-Age Theme Icon
Confessions, Revenge, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
In particular, Junior is excited about school, particularly playing basketball with Rowdy on the high school team. They were the best players on their eighth-grade... (full context)
Chapter 17 - Dance, Dance, Dance
Racism, Poverty, and Alcoholism Theme Icon
Confessions, Revenge, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...two boys chat for a while, with Roger inviting Junior to try out for the basketball team. (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... (full context)
Identity, Belonging, and Coming-of-Age Theme Icon
Racism, Poverty, and Alcoholism Theme Icon
Hope, Dreams, and Loss Theme Icon
...his motorcycle and regrets that Junior couldn’t play that night. Eugene was once a legendary basketball player; rumor has it that he was good enough to play on a college team,... (full context)
Chapter 25 - In Like a Lion
Identity, Belonging, and Coming-of-Age Theme Icon
Hope, Dreams, and Loss Theme Icon
As basketball season continues, Junior’s shooting makes him an unexpected star on Reardan’s basketball team. The high... (full context)
Identity, Belonging, and Coming-of-Age Theme Icon
Confessions, Revenge, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Hope, Dreams, and Loss Theme Icon
...and himself that he is stronger than everyone else and will never give up, in basketball or in life. (full context)
Chapter 26 - Rowdy and I Have a Long and Serious Discussion About Basketball
Overlapping Opposites Theme Icon
Confessions, Revenge, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
After basketball season ends, Junior emails Rowdy an apology for what happened at the game, and Rowdy... (full context)
Chapter 29 - Talking About Turtles
Racism, Poverty, and Alcoholism Theme Icon
Hope, Dreams, and Loss Theme Icon
...conditioning, and Junior tries to build up Rowdy’s confidence about the possibility of a pro basketball career, since “Rowdy didn’t believe in himself.” One day, they decide to go swimming in... (full context)
Identity, Belonging, and Coming-of-Age Theme Icon
Hope, Dreams, and Loss Theme Icon
...stay with Junior for a week or two; and Roger, who has willed Junior his basketball uniform and told him he’s going to be a star. (full context)
Identity, Belonging, and Coming-of-Age Theme Icon
Confessions, Revenge, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...in, saying that he still hates Junior, but he’s bored and wants to play some basketball. Junior considers trying to make Rowdy apologize for the way he’s acted, but decides that... (full context)