The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
How we cite our quotes:
"A metaphorical boner!" I shouted. "What the heck is a metaphorical boner?"
"When I say boner, I really mean joy," he said.
"Then why didn't you say joy? You didn't have to say boner. Whenever I think about boners, I get confused."
"Boner is funnier. And more joyful."
Gordy and I laughed.
He was an extremely weird dude. But he was the smartest person I'd ever known. He would always be the smartest person I'd ever known. (12.211-12.217)
One of the most important things that Arnold learns from Gordy is that learning and knowledge and reading and books should bring you a whole big bunch of joy. So much joy, in fact, that the only way that Gordy knows how to describe the feeling is by calling it a "boner." Why is the idea of joy so important for this book?
"Hey Arnold," he said. "I looked up 'in love with a white girl' on Google and found an article about that white girl named Cynthia who disappeared in Mexico last summer. You remember how her face was all over the papers and everybody said it was such a sad thing?"
"I kinda remember," I said.
"Well, this article said that over two hundred Mexican girls have disappeared in the last three years in that same part of the country. And nobody says much about that. And that's racist. The guy who wrote the article says people care more about beautiful white girls than they do about everybody else on the planet. White girls are privileged. They're damsels in distress." (16.24-16.26)
Needing relationship advice, Arnold asks Gordy about his semi-relationship with the beautiful Penelope. Gordy's response is analytical: he presents Arnold with a Google-searched article that discusses the preference given to white women by Western society. In his own nerdy way, Gordy teaches Arnold about the larger inequalities in the world and how even our personal desires can be influenced by them.
"Your mother was thirteen and I was five when we first met. And guess how we first met?"
"She helped me get a drink from a water fountain."
"Well, that just seems sort of gross," I said.
"I was tiny," Dad said. "And she boosted me up so I could get a drink. And imagine, all these years later and we're married and have two kids."
"What does this have to do with basketball?"
"You have to dream big to get big."
"That's pretty dang optimistic of you, Dad."
"Well, you know, our mother helped me get a drink from the water fountain last night, if you know what I mean." (20.9-20.17)
Though Arnold's family has their fair share of problems, his Dad is always encouraging. Here he tries to teach his son about the importance of dreaming big. What else does Arnold learn from his family?