Letter to a Friend
The Power of Community

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Change and Friendship on the Rez.


“People change over the years, and that changes situations for good and for bad.”
~Bobby Knight

In Diary of a Wimpy Kid books #5-8 Greg Heffley, the main character, is in ninth grade. Greg’s best friend is named Rowley. They have known each other for a long time. Their friendship has had some rough patches but they’ve always stayed together, even when they change individually. There is a similar situation in The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian with Junior and his friend Rowdy.

    In order to move on you have to accept change. In the book The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie Junior is faced with much change, but has to move on with his life. Junior remains strong in the face of adversity. He realizes what he has control of and accepts what he can’t. Throughout the book he is transforming and with this he is growing up. Junior is changing and so is the world around him. He is starting his ninth grade school year at Wellpinit, the school on the Indian reservation in Spokane Washington.  Wellpinit is somewhat rundown because the reservation is impoverished. This means that the school does not get new supplies often. Junior is in geometry class and the teacher, Mr. P. comes into the classroom with textbooks. When Junior opens his textbook he sees his mother’s name. Junior is all of the sudden launched into a fit of rage.

And let me tell you, that old, old, old, decrepit geometry book hit my heart with the force of a nuclear bomb. My hopes and dreams floated up in a mushroom cloud. What do you do when the world has declared nuclear war on you?” (The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Because Geometry Is Not a Country Somewhere Near France) 

Junior’s action of throwing the textbook inspires change within himself. Junior recognizes that the reservation will not change so he has to change and his teacher Mr. P. tells him“You have to leave this reservation.” [“Hope Against Hope”]  This is the first time Junior has taken initiative from within. The change Junior makes is switching schools to the more privileged school in town where the white kids go. At the new school, Reardan Junior encounters different changes that he is not used to on the reservation. With all the change Junior goes through he needs a friend as an anchor point in his life.

    Everyone has a friend that no matter what they will always get along. Junior and his best friend Rowdy are always there for each other even if they are mean, they have a deeper connection that cannot be broken easily. Junior and Rowdy’s life are similar and different in many ways, but this does not stop them from creating an extremely strong bond. At some points in the novel it seems like they hate each other, but their friendship always comes through in the end. Junior and Rowdy have been friends since birth, so their friendship has lasted through their toughest times. The latest strain on their companionship is when Junior decides to make a change and go to the school in town with more funding where the white kids go. Rowdy is angered by this because he believes that Junior is abandoning him and believes he is better than him. This causes them not to talk for a few weeks, so Junior chooses to try and rekindle their friendship.

I was trying to fix my broken friendship with Rowdy, and that I missed him, and if that was gay, then okay… I could see Rowdy in the window of his upstairs bedroom. He was holding my cartoon. He was watching me walk away. And I could see the sadness in his face. I just knew he missed me, too. [The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Thanksgiving]

Junior tries to rebuild his bond with Rowdy after Rowdy beat him up because he is changing schools. Juniors attempt to kickstart his companionship is not fruitless because while Rowdy is still disrespectful Junior can tell he misses him. Junior is hopeful that Rowdy be friendly next they see each other, “But Rowdy still respected my cartoons. And so maybe he still respected me a little bit.” [“Thanksgiving”] In the end the adversity their friendship goes through will make their friendship even stronger.

    Learning is a challenge but the benefits are endless. Reading The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian was easy but grasping the ideas it had to offer was tough because they were completely unfamiliar to me. The reading was easier than I initially expected, but what I did not expect was how challenging it was to learn about completely foreign concepts. The idea of living on an Indian reservation and in poverty made me rethink what I knew about them. When Fitz said we would be reading The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian I knew nothing about the book but I thought it would be dense and complicated. The opposite was true, the text was not desne or complicated but there was one element that made this assignment hard. This was highlighting the recurring themes and understanding the themes that I was highlighting, it was difficult because I could not relate the themes to my own life. Having to tackle tough themes with simple reading made for an interesting experience. When highlighting themes in the reading I learned about struggles and success which were uncharted waters for me. Junior has to live with poverty, alcoholism and discrimination, which I have never had to go through. From the novel I have gotten a glimpse of what it’s like to live with these struggles. I also learned the lesson of perseverance because Junior is always moving forward in his life. While Junior is living his life with his struggles and preserving, he always has a growth mindset which I would like to make a part of my life. Even though The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian was not what I initially thought it was, I believe my experience of reading the novel was worth it because it gave me a window to a life I won't live, but I can learn from.

    The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian allowed me to see how you must accept change and the value in a strong friendship through the eyes of Junior.


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Aiden LaCamera

Decent essay Pete. Your diction and word choice was exceptional. Try to fix the size of the text on your quote before the essay. It is a little to big. But overall really good job.


Great job Pete! This was a strong essay. I thought it was a clever idea to use the redirection strategy in you introduction. Like Aiden said, the font size of the quote was a little big. Overall, great job!


I love your first sentance, I knew that the essay was about Part-Time Indian but when you mentioned a different book i got confused and intrigued. You last sentance is also very good and left me on the edge of my seat. Good Job!


Awesome Job Pete! I really liked how you connected The Diary of a Wimpy Kid to The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian. You also did a great job analyzing the quotes from the book.


Pete, great essay! you intgrated your liine and phrase quotes extremely well. I also liked the end of your second to ast paragraph put I think your conclusions could have gotten the point across in less words and kept the door more open.


Pete, great essay! you intgrated your liine and phrase quotes extremely well. I also liked the end of your second to ast paragraph put I think your conclusions could have gotten the point across in less words and kept the door more open.

Alexander Murdough

Nice job Pete. Besides the few visual things, I thought your essay looked very neat and clean. You also had an interesting first sentence that hooked me in.


Nice job Pete. Your essay was well written and had strong vocabulary. You could fix the font size for the title and quote for having your essay visually looking better. I like that!


Nice essay pete. I like how you went with the redirection method in your intro and I also like how you used the theme of change instead of poverty like a lot of other people. Nice job.

The Fenn Voice

"Accepting change" is a good them to explore--and one I had not considered before reading this articulate and insightful essay. I like the redirect in the open, but I think it needs some more flesh on the bones to make the redirect and point the reader in the direction of the full essay--one that includes reference to your awesome literary reflection at the close. Nice work.

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