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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

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How we cite our quotes:

Quote #4

"Arnold," she said one day after school, "I hate this little town. It's so small, too small. Everything about it is small. The people here have small ideas. Small dreams. They all want to marry each other and live here forever."

"What do you want to do?" I asked.

"I want to leave as soon as I can. I think I was born with a suitcase."

Yeah, she talked like that. All big and goofy and dramatic. I wanted to make fun of her, but she was just so earnest. (15.87-15.90)

Penelope is beautiful and blonde and white, and her home is the rich little town of Reardan. Oddly enough, though, she doesn't see Reardan as a place of hope, like Arnold does. Instead, she sees Reardan in much the same way that Arnold views the reservation. Penelope believes that, in order to realize her very big dreams (that would be something other than getting married and having children), she must leave her home in Reardan. What are some of the other limitations that Penelope faces in Reardan?

Quote #5

Traveling between Reardan and Wellpinit, between the little white town and the reservation, I always felt like a stranger.

I was half Indian in one place and half white in the other. (17.1-17.2)

As Arnold moves between Reardan and Wellpinit we see that he feels as though he belongs in neither place. Too Indian for Reardan and too white for Wellpinit, Arnold begins to feel like a stranger. Does this feeling ever change for Arnold?

Quote #6

I have a lot of free time, so I have started to write my life story. Really! Isn't that crazy? I think I'm going to call it How to Run Away from your House and Find Your Home. (19.1)

This is a piece of a letter written by Arnold's sister Mary. Mary has left her home in Wellpinit and is living with her husband among the Flathead Indians in Montana. According to her letters, she loves her new life – much more than living in her parents' basement. Why do you think she gives this title to her book?

Also, though Mary has left her family's home, she hasn't actually left the reservation system. She is still on a reservation, only now the reservation is in Montana. What difference do you think this makes? (Hint: What happens to Mary in the end?)

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