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

What adjectives would you use to describe Arnold/Junior?

Quick answer:

Arnold/Junior is a dynamic character who can be described with a number of adjectives, including resilient, anxious or nervous, and conflicted.

Expert Answers

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

There are a number of adjectives that can describe Junior's character in The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Junior is an extremely resilient character; we see this throughout multiple events of the novel, such as when he's jumped on Halloween in chapter 11, or in chapter 4, when he tries out for the high school basketball team. No matter what obstacles lay in his way, he always remains determined to succeed and bounces back from various challenges with success and fortitude.

In addition, we see Junior behave in an anxious or nervous way at times. In chapter 17, when he asks Penelope to the winter formal, he must confront his own poverty. He worries about having to wear his dad's old suit or having to purchase photos he truly does not have the money for.

Lastly, Junior is confused or conflicted; he struggles to balance his identity as a Native American boy with his identity as a Reardan student. He often feels as if he has one foot in each world and that the worlds are too different to ever fully collide. We see this truly come out in the final chapters, during the big Wellpinit versus Reardan basketball game, and in his conversations and reflections with Rowdy about life on the reservation.

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

Sherman Alexie's novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, is about a young boy named Arnold Spirit, Jr. or Junior for short. Junior experiences many events that are considered coming of age events, such as moving to a new school and trying to balance his life at school with his life at home on the reservation.

Arnold Spirit, Jr. can be described by a variety of adjectives. Junior is funny, witty, damaged, and artistic.

Readers learn quickly that Junior is funny and witty by his writing style. He discussed male reactions to stimulus and does so in hilarious ways.

Junior is also damaged which he immediately discloses by saying that he is a hydrocephalic or someone who gets seizures often and is at risk for brain damage.

Lastly, Junior is artistic. He draws constantly in his diary. These images make the story more enjoyable to read and make it seem like a real diary. Although Junior draws frequently, he is also self-deprecating because he does not think his drawings look real enough.

Junior is a great role model for readers of all kinds.

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

Junior, the main character and speaker in The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, is a character with whom readers can relate on various levels because of his vulnerable voice throughout the story. Some qualities that come through most clearly are his inner strength and sarcasm.

Junior demonstrates determination and strength as he faces serious problems such as bullying, poverty, and self-doubt throughout the novel, especially at the various moments when he describes the difficulties of his transfer to a high school off of his reservation. Because he is truly "one of a kind" in both settings, he is forced to be independent and focused as the people around him consider him to be either a stranger or a traitor. Partially because of his difficult circumstances, Junior also consistently shows a caustic, biting wit as he describes himself and the people around him. Rather than being self-pitying or avoidant, Junior chooses to discuss important issues by using his sarcastic intelligence to mask the pain of the scenarios, thus adding deeper character development.

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

Arnold Spirit Junior is a character who is instantly lovable and easy to root for. Some adjectives that fit with him best are:

  • Persevering – whether he is trying to get a better education by going to Reardon, guarding the giant Roger during basketball tryouts, or trying to win his ex-best friend Rowdy back, Junior does not give up on anything he sets his mind to. This is probably his central personality trait, as his perseverance to get a better life drives both the plot of the story and most of Juniors major decisions throughout it.  
  • Thoughtful/Philosophical – Junior gives a lot of thought to the world around him, often processing the things he sees, hears, and does and determining what these things say about the world and people. He has a keen understanding of racism and the effects it has on him and his fellow Indians, but he also learns that people have many aspects to their personality - Roger, for example, is both "of kind heart and generous pocket, and a little bit racist" (pg 129). Junior can also thoughtfully consider his relationship with Penelope from multiple angles. While he worries she is using him and resents their relationship not being more serious and physical, he also realizes that he is using her as well, and that sometimes, he's the shallow one.
  • Individualistic – As his friend Gordy says, "weird people still get banished" (pg 131). And Junior absolutely does. He gets picked for everything about him, but he still won't let that stand in the way of being himself, fully.   

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial