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 Junior throw his geometry book? What does this suggest about Junior?

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Junior threw his geometry book when he saw the name "Agnes Adams" inscribed in it. Agnes Adams was not just a previous user of the book—she is Junior's mother.

When Junior did the math, he realized that the book he was holding had to be at least 30 years older than him. This made him both sad and angry, as he realized that thanks to the overwhelming prevalence of poverty in his community, he had to study from a book that was hopelessly out of date.

Thanks to this, Junior felt certain that his hopes and dreams would all come to nothing. This action suggests that Junior is angry about the state of his community and is unwilling to sacrifice his future because of the poverty faced by his community.

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One day in class, Junior gets incredibly angry at discovering his mother's name written inside an old geometry book. This tells him straight away that the book is at least thirty years out of date. That Junior and his classmates are forced to use such outdated materials brings home to him the poverty—both material and aspirational—of life on the reservation. When Junior finds out just how old the book is, he suddenly sees all his hopes and dreams float up in a giant mushroom cloud. How on earth can he be expected to escape from this world of grinding poverty and lack of opportunity if this is the standard of education he's been getting?

Junior's so furious at the age of the book and all it represents that he angrily flings it away. This is his way of rejecting the second-rate education he's been receiving. What seems like a willful act of youthful impetuosity actually shows us that Junior knows there's a much better life away from the reservation and that he's determined to lead it.

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