The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
by Sherman Alexie
Analysis: What's Up With the Ending?
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian ends in Chapter 30 with a one-on-one basketball game between Arnold and Rowdy. Their conversation during the play has a whole lot to do with reconciling the two ways that Arnold sees himself and with finding a brand new identity that both he and Rowdy can accept.
Rowdy, weirdly, is actually of some help. Rowdy tells Arnold that he's been reading a book about "old-time Indians, about how we used to be nomadic." Rowdy continues: "So I looked up nomadic in the dictionary, and it means people who move around, who keep moving, in search of food and water and grazing land."
Rowdy points out that while most Indians are no longer nomadic, Arnold is totally and completely nomadic. "I'm not nomadic," Rowdy says. "Hardly anybody on this rez is nomadic. Except for you. You're the nomadic one."
Now what is so significant about Rowdy calling Arnold a "nomad"?
Well, for starters, being a "nomad" just like the old timey Indians would make it so that leaving home wouldn't conflict with Arnold's sense of himself. He could move off the rez and still be an Indian. In fact, as Rowdy explains, Indians have always left home. So, actually, Arnold's departure for greener pastures would actually be a way Indian thing to do.
What's also important here is that Rowdy is beginning to accept Arnold's dreams – and to encourage him to realize them. Rowdy tells Arnold: "I had this dream about you a few months ago. You were standing on the Great Wall of China. You looked happy. And I was happy for you."
Are you touched by this? We were touched by this. After all the bad blood between these two, Rowdy is not only forgiving Arnold, he is actually happy for him. As we know, the reconciliation between these two will allow Arnold to be happy for himself.