In The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Gordy claims "Life is a constant struggle between being an individual and a member of the community." What does he mean by that? Is this true for...

In The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Gordy claims "Life is a constant struggle between being an individual and a member of the community." What does he mean by that? Is this true for Junior? For Gordy?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The truth of this statement is shown in the struggles that Junior faces as he tries to work out who he is and what kind of future he wants to have. The statement means that all of us face a conflict between doing what we want to do with our lives without regard for anybody else, or doing what other people would have us to: family, friends and our ethnic group. Of course, for Junior, this struggle is made extreme because of the way that he faces such problems for wanting to seek a better life outside of the reservation where all of his family and tribe are based and live their lives. He certainly does not have it easy, and even when he does make the decision to go to the school outside of the reservation where he can receive a better education, he still encounters massive problems as a result, as his first day at his new school shows:

They stared at me, the Indian boy with the black eye and swollen nose, my going-away gifts from Rowdy. Those white kids couldn't believe their eyes. They stared at me like I was Bigfoot or a UFO.

Junior struggles to fit in, and his decision to prize the individual over the community only accentuates this problem. This quote therefore is very true for Junior as it encapsulates the dilemma he faces: either to follow what everybody else would have him do and settle for a life in the reservation, or do what he wants to do and try and achieve a better life.

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