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 believe he deserved to be hit in the face in The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian?

Quick answer:

Mr. P's motivation for getting hit with the book was not just to pay a penance, but also to right a wrong that he had created in his past. Mr. P's motivation for getting hit with the book was because of his role in the system that denied Native American voice. The answer can be found in the text pages 107-108.

Expert Answers

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One reason Mr. P believes that he deserved to be hit in the face was because of his own past.  At that moment, Mr. P might not have welcome what Junior did.  Yet, it becomes clear when Mr. P sits down with Junior that he understood the implications of the action.  Mr. P understands that Junior was taking out his anger over a system that denies hopes and dreams to Native Americans, a system of which Mr. P is an integral part.  Mr. P confesses to Junior that he "hurt a lot of Indian kids when (he) was a young teacher."  He attempts to explain it to Junior by saying that it "was a different time...it was wrong...I was young and stupid and full of ideas."  Mr. P recognizes the danger of these ideas as they were designed to cause Native Americans to sacrifice their culture.

Mr. P understands that he deserved to be hit with the book because of his role in a system that denied Native American voice.  Part of his motivation in explaining to Junior how bright his sister was and why Junior has to leave the Reservation is because of his own guilt.  He feels fundamentally bad for his role in what White America does to Native Americans.  He feels that getting hit with the book is seen as the first part of paying a pennance that has been a long time in arriving.  For Mr. P. Junior's actions help to bring some level of justice, or righting a wrong in his own past in terms of what he did to Native Americans.

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