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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

Identity Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #13

"So, anyway," he said. "I was reading this book about old-time Indians, about how we used to be nomadic."

"Yeah," I said.

"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."

"That sounds about right."

"Well, the thing is, I don't think Indians are nomadic anymore. Most Indians, anyway."

"No, we're not," I said.

"I'm not nomadic," Rowdy said. "Hardly anybody on this rez is nomadic. Except for you. You're the nomadic one."

"Whatever."

"No, I'm serious. I always knew you were going to leave. I always knew you were going to leave us behind and travel the world. 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." (30.176-30.184)

Though Arnold has accepted himself, it's still important to him that Rowdy does too. And here, he does! Rowdy is able to come to terms with Arnold's decision to leave the reservation – and Arnold's new identity – by thinking of Arnold as a "nomad." In this sense, Rowdy still sees Arnold as an Indian (after all, the "old-time Indians" were nomads), even though he is no longer on the reservation. Why do you think Rowdy's approval is so important to Arnold?

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