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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

Grandmother Spirit

Character Analysis

(Click the character infographic to download.)

Grandmother Spirit is powwow famous, and her greatest gift is tolerance. When she is struck by a drunk driver, her dying words ask that Gerald, the man who hit her, be forgiven.

In many ways, Grandmother is the spirit of tradition and the past, and her funeral brings the entire Spokane Indian Reservation together. But her death also serves as a reminder to Arnold that life on the rez is deeply unfair:

But my family had to bury my grandmother.

I mean, it's natural to bury your grandmother.

Grandparents are supposed to die first, but they're supposed to die of old age. They're supposed to die of a heart attack or a stroke or of cancer or of Alzheimer's.

THEY ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO GET RUN OVER AND KILLED BY A DRUNK DRIVER! (22.82-22.85)

In a way, the death of his grandma is what prompts Arnold to become more invested in his life at Reardan—the despair he feels over alcoholism in Wellpinit makes it easier for him to invest himself in his new life.

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