How does Junior come full circle by the end of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Part of the reason why Junior comes full circle in his thinking is because he has learned to see the world beyond dualities.  Throughout the narrative, Junior struggles with being "Indian" or "White."  His world is constructed in dualities.  Either he lives on the reservation with the Spokanes, or he is at Reardon with the Whites.  In the end, Mary's death allows Junior to experience several epiphanies.  He learns that one has to "live life."  This involves following one's dreams, and while others might not understand this pursuit, it is not something that can be eliminated entirely for the sake of something else.  His understanding of how alcohol abuse is a way to deal with the death of one's dreams is a part of this.  Mary might have died for her own dreams, but they were her own.  When Junior's mother commends Junior for his path, it is almost a resolution to his own ambivalence.  It confirms that Junior will always be Indian, but that does not mean that dreams and aspirations are silenced.  In the end, Junior weeps for understanding from his tribe, and in the process, seeks to embrace his own dreams, living on the reservation while being able to experience acceptance from the Whites.  In this light, Junior sees his experience as unique and distinctive, something that lies outside the realm of binary dualism.  When he and Rowdy play hoops without keeping score, it represents transcendence from "either/ or" into a transcendent realm.

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