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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How does Rowdy's character evolve in The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian?

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Rowdy is Junior's best friend.

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Rowdy, Junior's best friend is, from start to finish, "the toughest kid on the rez." He goes from spending copious amounts of time at Junior's house to avoid his abusive father, to refusing to speak to Junior at all after his decision to transfer to Reardan High School.

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the book, after a showdown between the two schools on the basketball court, Junior sends Rowdy an email to which he responds, indicating that there is hope that Rowdy had begun to mature and overcome his grudge.

In the aftermath of the sudden death of Junior's sister, Rowdy realizes how much Junior's family means to him, which is evidenced by his tears on the day of the funeral.

While Rowdy never apologizes to Junior, his return into his former friend's life shows a journey towards acceptance, understanding, and maturity.

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Rowdy--as his name implies--is outwardly a rough-and-tumble kid who has a rough exterior because he deals with the daily abuse of his alcoholic father.  But even though Rowdy is rough on the outside, Junior knows that he has a soft inner spot which is revealed when he does the things he loves such as reading comic books.  When Junior tells him that he is going to leave the school in Wellpinit to attend Reardan, Rowdy feels betrayed and tries to shut Junior out of his life.  He cannot see the benefits of Junior leaving to go to another school.  Junior is a stable entity in Rowdy's life, and Rowdy does not want to lose Junior.  However, as the novel progresses, Rowdy starts to see past his own needs and begins to come to an understanding of why Junior has made the decision to switch schools.  In the end, the two boys become friends again.

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

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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