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

Start Free Trial

Why does Rowdy call Junior a nomad in The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian?  

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Rowdy calls Junior a nomad because Junior is following in the footsteps of their ancestors. In the book, Rowdy labels Junior a nomad toward the end of the story.

After looking up the word "nomadic" in the dictionary, Rowdy concludes that the conventional definition of the word no longer fits Native Americans today. He tells Junior that most Native Americans prefer staying on the "rez," so they can no longer claim the distinction of being nomads.

However, Rowdy maintains that Junior has retained that nomadic heritage in his soul. He confesses that he had a dream months ago about Junior standing on the Great Wall of China. Rowdy tells Junior that he had always known his friend would leave the reservation.

Rowdy then tells Junior that he's an "old-time nomad" and that he will always roam the world in search of greener pastures. For his part, Junior thanks Rowdy for his support. He promises to send Rowdy postcards from wherever he is.

This touching exchange between the two friends at the end of the novel is significant. Rowdy's words show that he no longer holds Junior's decision to leave against him. In other words, Rowdy has come to accept that Junior's decision is based on an ancient tradition that will never die.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

A nomad is a person who wanders from place to place. Sometimes nomads move according to the seasons.

In this case, Junior fits the definition. Rowdy called him a nomad with the intention of being derrogatory. He wanted Junior to feel bad for leaving the Rez behind and moving into white culture. What's interesting is that Junior moved to Reardan High according to a season of his life. Attending a public school off the reservation would compliment his ability to be educated.

Maybe Rowdy was jealous of Junior's escape, but the put-down certainly fits their relationship. Rowdy wants to see Junior maintain the culture of Native Americans, even though the picture of Rowdy's life given to the audience by the author is not particularly positive.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team