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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In The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, how does Alexie compare tribal schools to white schools?

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The major differences between the school that Junior goes to on the reservation and then the white school that he has the chance to go to are based around money. What upsets Junior incredibly is when he one day is in school and he realises that he is using the same text book that his mother used herself when she was at school. What makes him throw this book at his teacher, in an act that was very uncharacteristic for him, was the profound anger he felt at the poverty and reduced circumstances that his tribe had to face, as the following quote describes:

My school and my tribe are so poor and sad that we have to study from the same dang books our parents studied from. That is absolutely the saddest thing in the world.

What defines the school on the reservation is therefore lack of resources and poverty. By contrast, the Reardan is described as being "the opposite" of Junior and the reservation and everything that Junior stands for. With its white intake of students, it is shown to be much wealthier and to not have the same problems as Junior's original school in the reservation.

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