What steps does Junior take to fit in at his new school? Are his strategies successful?

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cneukam1379 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of the first instances of Junior attempting to fit in at Reardan is his seventh day there, as detailed in the chapter, "How to Fight Monsters."  Because he is an Indian who has left the reservation to attend school, he is already feeling isolated and out of place.  Most of the students, including a group of jocks, call him names like "'Chief' or 'Tonto' or 'Squaw Boy.'"  But when the leader of that group, Roger, makes a rather racist comment, Junior punches him, giving Roger a bloody nose.  Junior thinks he knows the rules, as detailed in his "The Unofficial and Unwritten Spokane Indian Rules of Fisticuffs," about how to fight and defend one's honor, but the white boys are shocked.  They do not fight over something like name-calling; Junior realizes at that moment that he may know the rules of his reservation, but the rules are different in this mostly white town.

One of the biggest ways that Junior attempts to fit in is through lying.  As with many teenagers, he does not want to be the outsider, so when he is asked questions about his life back home, of which he is embarrassed because his family is poor, he lies or makes up stories.  For instance, when Junior and Penelope go to the Winter Formal and then go with Roger and his friends to pancakes later ("Dance, Dance, Dance"), Junior knows he only has five dollars in his pocket, yet he orders a large meal anyway.  He thinks that when the group finds out, they will kick him out of the group, and then he will not have to try to cover up his lackings any longer.  However, Roger again surprises him when he lends him some money.  Again, Junior does not know how to react because he has never had an interaction with a white person, and all the rumors he has heard tell him that white people hate Indians.  

Ultimately, Junior learns that stereotypes, like the ones people have when they view him, and vice versa, the stereotypes he has about others, are never completely accurate.  Junior learns that he can be himself without losing his Indian identity and attend Reardan successfully.  

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