Chapters 14-19 Summary and Analysis
Junior wonders why Indians celebrate Thanksgiving, given the history between the Pilgrims and the Indians. With the dark humor characteristic of their tribe, Junior's dad tells him that they "should give thanks that (the Pilgrims) didn't kill all of (them)." It is a good day, and the family "laugh(s) like crazy." Junior misses Rowdy, so he draws a cartoon of the two of them "like (they) used to be" and takes it to his friend's house. Rowdy's dad says that Rowdy is not home, but takes the cartoon, and, after making a derisive comment about it, says he will give it to his son. As Junior is leaving, he sees Rowdy in the upstairs window, holding the cartoon. Rowdy looks sad, but when Junior waves at him, Rowdy flips him off. Momentarily hurt, Junior realizes that even though Rowdy had given him the finger, he had not torn up the cartoon, and he is encouraged, thinking that maybe Rowdy "still respect(s) (him) a little bit."
During class, Junior asks to be excused to go to the bathroom. While he is there, he hears someone vomiting in the adjoining girls' restroom. Junior knocks on the door and asks if whoever is in there is okay, but is told to go away. Junior, however, waits, and after a while, Penelope comes out. Disconcerted, she asks Junior what he is looking at, and Junior responds that he is looking at an anorexic. Penelope retorts that she is not anorexic, she is bulimic, and that she is actually only bulimic when she is throwing up. Junior realizes that she sounds just like his father, who says he is only an alcoholic when he gets drunk. He tells Penelope, "Don't give up," which is what he always says to his dad when his dad is drunk and depressed. Penelope starts to cry and talks about how no one understands that she is scared all the time, because "she's pretty and smart and popular." Junior and Penelope become a "hot item" at Reardan after that; they are not exactly a couple, but more like "friends with potential." Everyone is amazed that Penelope picked Junior to be her friend because he is "an absolute stranger...and...an Indian," and because the two of them are defying Penelope's father Earl, who is a racist. In reality, Junior is not sure what he means to Penelope, and wonders if she is using him just to counteract her pristine image. Even if this is true, Junior admits that he is using Penelope too, in a way. Because she has chosen him, the other girls think he is "cute," and the boys decide he is a "major stud." Junior's and Penelope's relationship is not completely shallow, however; they do share with each other their hopes and dreams. Penelope tells Junior that she wants to study architecture and build "something beautiful." Like Junior, she wants to do something with her life so that she will be remembered.
Junior guesses that he "sort of love(s)" Penelope, but admits that mostly, he feels a strong physical attraction for her, and is unsure of what to do with his feelings. He emails Rowdy, telling him he is in love with a white girl, and surprisingly, Rowdy emails back, saying with characteristic directness that he is "sick of Indian guys who treat white women like bowling trophies." Junior then turns to Gordy, who does some research and finds an Internet article that talks about how two hundred Mexican girls have disappeared over the past few years and no one says very much, but much attention has been paid to the abduction of a single white girl. The article suggests that "people care more about beautiful white girls than they do about everybody else on the planet," and when Junior asks Gordy what the article has to do with him, Gordy infers that Junior is "just a racist...like everybody else."
In order to "belong" at Reardan, Junior hides his poverty. He invites Penelope to the Winter Formal, even though he has only five dollars, not nearly enough to pay for photos or anything else. Because he cannot afford new clothes, he has to wear his dad's old polyester suit; Junior is sure that everyone...
(The entire section is 1,664 words.)