The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
How we cite our quotes:
"My name is Junior," I said. "And my name is Arnold. It's Junior and Arnold. I'm both."
I felt like two different people inside of one body.
No, I felt like a magician slicing myself in half, with Junior living on the north side of the Spokane River and Arnold living on the south. (8.72-8.74)
In Arnold's conversation with the beautiful Penelope, we begin to see a true splitting of Arnold's self. He is Junior at home on the reservation, and he is Arnold when he is at school in Reardan. Do you think Arnold's split personality is a positive thing? Why does Arnold use the image of a magician slicing himself in half? Do you think Arnold can reconcile these two people living inside of him? How?
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.
It was like being Indian was my job, but it was only a part-time job. And it didn't pay well. (17.1-17.3)
Title alert! Arnold writes, at last, about feeling like he's only a "part-time" Indian. Again, this ties into the way that Arnold feels himself splitting into two. It's like he's "half-white" in one place and "half-Indian" in the other. This leads Arnold to feel like a stranger in both places. Are there any places where Arnold feels accepted or at home? Where? (Hint: think about the library or the basketball court or Arnold's friends at school.)
"The people at home," I said. "A lot of them call me an apple."
"Do they think you're a fruit or something?" he asked.
"No, no," I said. "They call me an apple because they think I'm red on the outside and white on the inside."
"Ah, so they think you're a traitor."
While Arnold himself is feeling like he has a split personality, the other Indians back on the rez are taking things a step further. The reservation has decided that, by leaving his home and going to school with white people, Arnold is a traitor. Why do you think that is? What does it mean to call Arnold an "apple"? Do the people on the rez think that Arnold's Indian-ness is only skin deep?