illustration of main character, Junior, holding a basketball and looking over his shoulder

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

by Sherman Alexie
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Why does Mr. P want Junior to leave the reservation?

Mr. P wants Junior to leave the reservation so he can pursue a brighter future elsewhere.

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Mr. P wants Junior to leave the reservation for an off-site high school so he can pursue a better future for himself. He acknowledges Junior's talents and intelligence and is impressed by the boy's attitude. However, he knows those qualities will never flourish in the defeatist environment of the reservation.

The reservation is mired in poverty, alcoholism, and despair. While Junior has retained a hopeful outlook, Mr. P feels that he will not have many opportunities for success if he stays on the reservation. Junior's sister, Mary, becomes the ultimate symbol of what can happen to a bright young person when trapped in such an atmosphere: despite being a talented writer and a smart kid, she gave up on life once she graduated high school. She lives in the family basement and has not written a thing, despite her former dreams of becoming a romance novelist. Mr. P does not want the same to happen to Junior. He tells him, "You kept your hope. And now, you have to take your hope and go somewhere where other people have hope."

Mr. P also feels guilty as a representative of the white education system on the reservations. In the past, it was believed that Indian culture had to be suppressed to get the students to flourish, but now he sees that was wrong and had horrible consequences for his pupils. By encouraging Junior to pursue his dreams elsewhere, he hopes to atone for past mistakes and save at least one student from a dead-end future.

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