How does Junior cope with the poverty and alcohol abuse in his reservation in The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Junior recognizes early on the in the narrative that he is fundamentally incapable of changing the structure of Native American life.  There is very little he can do to remedy the impoverished conditions on both emotional and financial levels that helps to facilitate so much of alcohol abuse.  Instead, he recognizes that this is not the life he wishes to become for himself.  With the alcoholism that has robbed his father of his emotional and spiritual senses of self and the alcohol induced fire that robbed his sister of her life, Junior understands that this is not something in which he is going to indulge.  To this extent, Junior is able to cope with the alcoholism that is such a part of his community.  The issue of poverty is a force that Junior recognizes he cannot defeat on his own.  Yet, what he can do is to envision a life where poverty does not control him so very much.  It is here where Junior's endeavors in Reardon, in a White school with a White community, become important.  Junior copes with his poverty by seeking to rise above it, to leave it behind so that it does not follow him and haunt him as it has so many others in his community.  It is to this end that Junior recognizes that such a move will be difficult, as the hold poverty has on the community is a strong one.  Yet, Junior also knows that one of his primary character traits is a sense of resilience and endurance that will allow him to find success in an eventual frame of reference.  It is through this that will enable Junior to cope with the poverty that is so embedded in his culture and something that is such a strong part of his identity as a Native American.

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