How is hope revealed within The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Junior would have to serve as the embodiment of hope in Alexie's work.  The fundamental crux of the work is the duality in which Junior finds himself.  On one hand, being loyal to his identity as a Native American is a reality in which dreams and opportunities are limited.  Nearly every Native American in the novel serves as an embodiment of this.  On the other hand, being a part of the cultural majority represents, to a great extent, shutting the door to Junior's sense of identity and being "rootless" in a world that is not his.  In this, Junior transcends binary opposition and finds a realm in which he is able to revere his own sense of identity and lay claim to the dreams and opportunities that are rightly his.  Junior is able to "straddle" both worlds, and in doing so, provides some level of hope to others who are live on "the Rez" and who struggle with similar narratives where such choices must be made.  It is not an easy one, as Junior endures much personal and social pain.  Yet, the ending of the novel is a poignant one in which he and Rowdy play basketball, without keeping score, and with an understanding that both conditions of Junior's state of being can be maintained without one trading off with another.  It is an interesting note of hope because it is reflective of the Native American Tradition.  The American sense of identity and the narrative places a great deal of emphasis on choice, binary oppositions whereby individuals must make a conscious choices of accepting one reality or path and rejection of another.  Junior seeks to transcend this, and in a very Native American manner, recognizes the need to permute aspects of both in his own being.  In doing so, Junior ends up embracing a sense of hope in a situation where pain and suffering has resulted for so many that only absorbed the traditionally Western binary oppositional nature of choice.  Accordingly, Junior is where the hope lies in the novel.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Certainly hope is the predominant emotion that we feel when we read about the character of Junior and his success as he struggles to pursue his dreams and develop himself and continue learning in a society that seems pitted so against him in every way. What is interesting and immensely tragic about Junior is the way that he is isolated in his own Native American community as he is physically much more fragile and weaker than his counterparts thanks to his poor health. However, he is able to pursue his intellectual curiosity and his educational development in spite of the way that his intelligence causes his peers to shun and reject him.

Even though he is successful in transfering to Reardan to continue his development and education at a much higher level, he is shunned there as well, being made to feel "red" at Reardan as the only indigenous student in the same way that he was made to feel "white" at his former school. Even though Junior does not really fit in anywhere, the way in which he faces the odds against him and triumphs against those odds no matter how difficult or immense they are gives us incredible hope and shows how one person can succeed and achieve incredible things in spite of the problems they face.

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