How does Grandma Spirit die?

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pirateteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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In Chapter 22 of Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, the main character, Junior believes his grandmother is a well known and well liked member of the Spokane tribe and across the country.  Junior believes that she is one of the best people in the world because of her tolerance.  He blames the white people for the Native American’s loss of tolerance "ever since white people showed up...Indians have gradually lost all of their tolerance...(they) can be just as judgmental and hateful as any white person."

 

Grandmother death is ironic.  Unlike many of their tribe, she had never tasted alcohol. As someone who loved life and wanted to live it to the fullest, she believed that drinking dulled their senses.  Junior thinks about this after a drunk driver kills her.  Ever tolerant, before dying, she tells her doctors to forgive her murderer.

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jameadows | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

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Grandma Spirit dies when she is struck by a drunk driver while she is walking home from a pow-wow at the Spokane Tribal Community Center. She was still alive when she was taken to the hospital in Spokane, where she died during surgery from massive internal injuries. Her last words were "forgive him," referring to Gerald, the Spokane Indian who ran her over. Grandma Spirit was a very tolerant and forgiving person, and although Junior's father wants to kill Gerald, he instead allows the justice system to take care of him. Gerald is sentenced to 18 months in jail and then gets out and moves to a reservation in California. The ironic part of Grandma Sprit's death is that she never touched alcohol, as she thought it would dull her senses of seeing, hearing, and feeling.

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