The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
How we cite our quotes:
"It's all your fault," he said.
"What's my fault?" I asked.
"Your sister is dead because you left us. You killed her."
That made me stop laughing. I suddenly felt like I might never laugh again.
Rowdy was right.
I had killed my sister.
Well, I didn't kill her.
But she only got married so quickly and left the rez because I had left the rez first. She was only living in Montana in a cheap trailer house because I had gone to school in Reardan. She had burned to death because I had decided that I wanted to spend my life with white people. (27.191-27.198)
Rowdy blames Arnold for Mary's death, and Arnold in turn blames himself. Rowdy claims that, if Arnold hadn't left the reservation, then Mary wouldn't have either. Still, did Mary every really leave the reservation?
But I was crying for my tribe, too. I was crying because I knew five or ten or fifteen more Spokanes would die during the next year, and that most of them would die because of booze.
I cried because so many of my fellow tribal members were slowly killing themselves and I wanted them to live. I wanted them to get strong and get sober and get the hell off the rez. (29.23-29.24)
Arnold describes the reservation as a place of senseless, meaningless death. Though Arnold is able to leave, he knows that few will. How can Arnold help those he has left behind? (Hint: Remember this book is inspired by Alexie's own life.)