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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

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Literature and Writing Quotes

How we cite our quotes: Citations for the text follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph); for art and illustrations: (Chapter.Illustration)

Quote #4

"Oh, she loved to write short stories. Little romantic stories. She wouldn't let anybody read them. But she'd always be scribbling in her notebook."

"Wow," I said.

That was all I could say.

I mean, my sister had become a humanoid underground dweller. There wasn't much romance in that. Or maybe there was. Maybe my sister read romances all day. Maybe she was trapped in those romances. (5.92-5.95)

Arnold's sister Mary loves the genre of romance so much that she even writes her own stories. Mary, though, doesn't show her writing to anyone. She hides her reading, her writing, and most important of all – herself. (Down in her parents' basement, that is.) How is Mary's relationship to reading and writing different from Arnold's? Is Mary really "trapped" in those romances? What is she trying to escape?

Quote #5

And my sister had married one of those crazy Indians.

She didn't even tell our parents or grandmother or me before she left. She called Mom from St. Ignatius, Montana, on the Flathead Indian Reservation, and said, "Hey, Mom, I'm a married woman now. I want to have ten babies and live here forever and ever."

How weird is that? It's almost romantic.

And then I realized my sister was trying to LIVE a romance novel.

Man, that takes courage and imagination. Well, it also took some degree of mental illness, too, but I was suddenly happy for her.

And a little scared. (12.104-12.109)

Change has come for Mary: she's no longer living in her parents' basement; instead, she has gone out and found herself a husband and moved to Montana. (Whoa!) Also, she's no longer reading or writing romance novels. Instead, as Arnold points out, she's attempting to live one. Arnold is happy for her, but also a little scared. Why? How do you feel about Mary's decisions?

Quote #6

"There are three thousand four hundred and twelve books here," Gordy said. "I know that because I counted them."

"Okay, now you're officially a freak," I said.

"Yes, it's a small library. It's a tiny one. But if you read one of these books a day, it would still take you almost ten years to finish."

"What's your point?"

"The world, even the smallest parts of it, is filled with things you don't know."

Wow. That was a huge idea.

Any town, even one as small as Reardan, was a place of mystery. And that meant Wellpinit, that smaller, Indian town, was also a place of mystery. (12.199-12.205)

Oh, the joy of knowledge! Gordy helps Arnold embrace this concept by taking him to the library and showing him just how much there is in this world that Arnold doesn't know. Crazy, right? We see how through books, the world –"even the smallest part of it" – becomes huge and filled with mystery. For Gordy and Arnold, books are not a means to escape the world; instead, books make the world bigger and more exciting.

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