Junior is tenacious, strong-willed, and resourceful, but the personality trait that makes all of these positive features possible is his capacity to recognize and question the assumptions people take up in the world. Moreover, he is able to apply this critical lens to conceptual registers spanning the economic, social, and political. For example, in chapter 2 ("Why Chicken Means So Much to Me"), he states,
Poverty doesn’t give you strength or teach you lessons about perseverance. No, poverty only teaches you how to be poor.
Here, Junior questions the powerful capitalist social and literary trope of poverty being a constructive force. Coming directly from his experience and the experiences of his other impoverished family members on the Indian reservation, he rejects this trope and its normalizing justification of poverty, pointing to its lack of an empirical backbone. Valuing empirical and qualitative evidence over dogmatic metaphor, he asserts that poverty is a social ill that only begets more social ill.