The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Themes
by Sherman Alexie

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian book cover
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The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Themes

The main themes in The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian are alienation, friendship, and death.

  • Alienation: Junior becomes a "part-time" Indian, and he is alienated by both his Indian friends' and his white friends' inability to understand the unique struggles he faces as he straddles both worlds.
  • Friendship: After transferring schools, Junior struggles to connect with his white classmates and is rejected by his Indian friends, who see his transfer as a betrayal.
  • Death: The deaths of his grandmother, sister, and his father's best friend force Junior to think about his place in the world and reconnect with his Indian roots.

Themes

Isolation is one of the main themes of Part-Time Indian. First, there is the isolation of the Native Americans, a people who were rounded up like livestock and forced onto sectioned-off pieces of land. There is also the isolation that Junior feels as an individual, a boy who was born with multiple physical impairments, including water on the brain, which causes him to have seizures, poor eyesight, a stutter, and a lisp. Junior also has an intellectual curiosity that is unmatched by most of his peers; this makes him an outcast among his own people. And when Junior transfers to Reardan, he is the only Native American at the school. Picked on and bullied, he must learn new social codes in order to fit in, but he soon discovers that he never will be fully accepted by white society, no matter how hard he tries.

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The other main theme of this novel is loss, which comes in many different forms. The most predominant is loss through death. Junior loses his grandmother and his sister, as well as his father’s best friend, who is...

(The entire section is 335 words.)