Cultural Conflicts In 'The Absolutely True Diary Of A Part-time Indian'

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In The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a Sokane Indian teenager who lives on a reservation (which Junior refers to as “the rez.”) This novel gives many examples of the experience that Indians have living between their indirect lives in their minds, versus their direct lives that they deal with everyday on the rez. The novel is full of examples of this conflict. We will explore three of these examples: 

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  1. Juniors teacher insists the Junior leaves the rez for ever;
  2. Juniors family freaks out when they find out that Juniors sister Marry leaves the rez and gets married;
  3. Junior defends himself from a racist white bully.

The first of three examples of the cultural conflict felt by Indians on the rez is when Juniors teacher tells Junior to leave the rez forever. “If you stay on this rez,” Mr. P said, “they’re going to kill you. I’m going to kill you. We’re all going to kill you. You can’t fight us forever.” Junior says Indians don’t just leave the rez because of the fact that every indian family teaches their kids that family sticks together so no one ever leaves. His teacher then proceeds to tell him that if he doesn’t he will die because of alcoholism, getting beaten up, gambling and lack of hope. Those are the main reasons why people in the rez die, not many of them go very far in life. Juniors teacher saw potential in him so he tried his hardest to convince junior to find a better school that will suit him

In the Indian culture families are very close with one another and always stay close to home to be around their loved ones. Mary ended up getting married to a white man and moved in with him. Her parents found out in a letter that she was gone, leaving them heartbroken. When Junior found out he said to his parents “Indian families stick together like Gorilla Glue, the strongest adhesive in the world.” Everyone in the Indian culture never leaves, but Mary was the first which made her whole family devastated. They were disappointed in her not only because she moved but also because she got married to a white man. Her family expected her to stay with them on the rez for their whole life sticking with them, that is why they were so disappointed in her.

One day Junior went to school and a kid named Rodrick came up to him in the hallway. He said “Did you know that Indians are living proof that n*ggers f*ck buffalo?” Meaning it as a joke but it wasn’t a joke to Junior. Junior took it as the kid trying to be rude and racist so junior in return punched him in the face. Indian families are taught growing up to always defend themselves and other Indians when someone is racist towards them no matter who it is. The difference between their cultures is that Indian families fight against racism and white families do not have to as much because of the fact that not a lot of people are racist towards them. Junior took action and showed Rodrick that it was very wrong of him to say that to Junior.

In conclusion, in the absolutely true diary of a part-time indian living in a separate culture than your own is difficult on my people especially to Junior. The things that make life difficult is not only their home life but also their life outside in the world and how they have to come in contact with people who do not like other cultures. Junior got through all of his life struggles and made it out in the end happy. 

16 December 2021

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