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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


Character Analysis

(Click the character infographic to download.)

Revenge Of The Nerds

Actually, Gordy's way too chill to want revenge. If there were a movie about Gordy, it might be called Enthusiasm Of The Nerds or How To Succeed In Nerdiness Without Even Trying.

Gordy is Reardan High School's boy genius. He is responsible for introducing Arnold to the joyous world of books and knowledge—he really shows Arnold that reading can be awesome (we agree, Gordy) and that learning isn't just not uncool, it's one of the most enjoyable parts of life.

He is an "anglophile" (he loves all things British) and thinks Arnold has a "singular wit" (12.147). He is also the one who has the totally fantastic "boner" conversation with Junior—his take is that all things worth doing should give you a boner. And no, he doesn't just have his mind in the gutter. He thinks that a really good artistic experience, or intellectually stimulating experience, can give you a kind of "metaphorical boner:"

"A metaphorical boner!" I shouted. "What the heck is a metaphorical boner?"

Gordy laughed. "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)

Arnold and Gordy later form a "tribe of two," since they are both outcasts from their respective communities:

"Well, life is a constant struggle between being an individual and being a member of the community."

Can you believe there is a kid who talks like that? Like he's already a college professor impressed with the sound of his own voice?


"Weird people still get banished."

"You mean weird people like me," I said.

"And me," Gordy said.

"All right, then," I said. "So we have a tribe of two." (18.20-18.30)

Thanks to this idea of being a "tribe of two," Arnold is able to reach his conclusion that he is a member of approximately one bajillion different tribes—that no matter how weird or different he may be, he'll always belong in a myriad of places.