illustration of main character, Junior, holding a basketball and looking over his shoulder

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

by Sherman Alexie

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In The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, what values and lessons does Junior's grandmother teach him?

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In The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Junior's grandmother is largely representative of the moral compass by which Junior is charged to live. Although many of the Indians around him, including his own father, have become alcoholics in response to the intense poverty and lack of opportunity on the reservation, Junior's grandmother never drank, and instead focuses her energy on her family. Junior's grandmother, in life, teaches him that he needs to try to understand the trials and tribulations of others so that he can empathize with others. She also teaches him that he should not hold onto anger and that he should stand up for himself and chase opportunities that come his way. When she tragically (and ironically) dies as the result of an accident caused by a drunk driver, Junior refuses to be angry because he knows that his grandmother would want him to show forgiveness to the person who caused the accident. So Junior's grandmother, both in life and in death, teaches Junior the gift of empathy.

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