How does Junior use language to lead readers to the kind of understanding that they will not necessarily get from other fiction by writers who have not had his same kind of experience? Junior has...

How does Junior use language to lead readers to the kind of understanding that they will not necessarily get from other fiction by writers who have not had his same kind of experience?

Junior has unique emotional realities of his life and community in The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian. Yet his matter-of-fact language and keen sense of irony help him confront and negotiate the hurt, rage, and senselessness of Wellpinit's everyday realities.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Alexie's uses Junior's language as a way of bridging the "experience gap" between Junior and the reader.

Alexie understands that the reader might have trouble empathizing with Junior.  Given how the novel is semi- autobiographical, this becomes even more important.  He recognizes that the only way that the reader will "get" what Junior experiences is by employing language that connects Junior's world to the reader's.  For example, consider how Alexie describes his impressions of the world:

'I used to think the world was broken down by tribes,' I said. 'By Black and White. By Indian and White. But I know this isn't true. The world is only broken into two tribes: the people who are assholes and the people who are not.'

Very few are going to understand what Junior's experiences are like on the reservation.  However, the reader can understand the presence of bad people in their own world.  This is one way in which narrative language is designed to connect Junior's world to the reader's.

Alexie is able to draw upon universal lessons in his narrative style.  These ideas are another way in which the reader can understand Junior's world.  When Junior speaks about his grandmother, it is a way to make the personal universal:

My grandmother had no use for all the gay bashing and homophobia in the world, especially among other Indians. 'Jeez,' she said, 'Who cares if a man wants to marry another man? All I want to know is who's going to pick up all the dirty socks?'

Junior struggles through harsh realities.  However, Alexie narrates his story in a way that is convergent with the reader's own experience.  People can understand tolerance.  They have experienced it in their own lives.  This represents how the novel "delivers a positive message in a low-key manner."  Connecting the universal lessons of love and empathy through humor and honesty are ways in which the gulf of experience between the reader and Junior is overcome.

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