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The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian


by Sherman Alexie

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Education Quotes

How we cite our quotes: Citations for the text follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph); for art and illustrations: (Chapter.Illustration)

Quote #1

Poverty doesn't give you strength or teach you lessons about perseverance. No, poverty only teaches you how to be poor. (2.54)

Arnold argues that adverse circumstances (poverty, for example) really don't teach you much of anything. At least, not anything good. The only kind of education you'll receive from being poor, Arnold suggests, is how to keep on being poor.

Quote #2

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 saddest thing in the world.

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? (4.57-4.58)

Education is one of the most important factors in any kid's life. But what happens when you realize that your school has been using the same books for over thirty years? Would your attitude about education change? How? Why does knowing that his school can't buy new books have the effect of a nuclear bomb on Arnold?

Quote #3

"When I first started teaching here, that's what we did to the rowdy ones, you know? We beat them. That's how we were taught to teach you. We were supposed to kill the Indian to save the child."

"You killed Indians?"

"No, no, it's just a saying. I didn't literally kill Indians. We were supposed to make you give up being Indian. Your songs and stories and language and dancing. Everything. We weren't trying to kill Indian people. We were trying to kill Indian culture." (5.40-5.42)

Mr. P reveals that his teacher training was focused on stamping out the children's Native American culture (songs, stories, language, and dancing). This also included violence, such as beatings. Why do you think the white teachers thought all of this was necessary? How does Arnold react to Mr. P's revelation?

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