Who is Rowdy in The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian?

Rowdy is Junior's best friend.

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In Sherman Alexie’s book The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Rowdy is Junior's best friend on the reservation. Junior (whose full name is Arnold Spirit) is the book's protagonist . He is a teenage boy who lives on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Many adults on the...

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In Sherman Alexie’s book The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Rowdy is Junior's best friend on the reservation. Junior (whose full name is Arnold Spirit) is the book's protagonist. He is a teenage boy who lives on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Many adults on the reservation struggle with alcoholism, and there are not a lot of opportunities for young people. Junior wants more out of life, so he transfers to Reardan High, an all-white high school twenty miles outside the reservation. Junior's decision to transfer schools causes a rift between him and Rowdy.

Rowdy's anger is understandable because he has a difficult life. His father is an abusive alcoholic, so Rowdy spent a lot of his childhood at Junior's home. When Junior decides to transfer schools, Rowdy feels betrayed. He thinks that Junior is rejecting his Indigenous identity and turning his back on their friendship. In his anger and frustration, he cannot bring himself to talk to Junior for a long time.

Rowdy and Junior cross paths again at a basketball game. Junior is on the varsity team at Reardan, and Rowdy is the star basketball player at Wellpinit, the high school on the reservation. Junior's coach is impressed with Rowdy and says:

"That kid is good."

"He's my best friend," I said. "Well he used to be my best friend."

"What is he now?"

"I don't know."

Rowdy gives Junior a concussion at the game, which escalates the tension between them. Their friendship is full of confusion and pain for a long time, until they finally talk again after Junior's sister, Mary, dies.

Rowdy is angry at Junior and says that it is his fault that Mary died because she would not have left if Junior had not left. But after some time passes, he comes by Junior's house one day as if nothing has happened. The two of them shoot hoops, and Junior asks Rowdy to transfer to Reardan. Rowdy does not want to, but this conversation finally clears the air, and Rowdy says he is happy for Junior.

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