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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

Penelope

Character Analysis

Penelope is the beautiful, perfect blonde girl and Arnold is the new Indian boy. How do they get together? Well, Penelope does want to stick it to her racist dad Earl, but Arnold and Penelope actually have a good deal in common.

Penelope and Junior are both dreamers (Chapter 15). Like Arnold, Penelope wants to leave Reardan with its "small ideas" and "small dreams" (15.87). She wants to see the world and all of its wonders. She longs to go to Stanford University and study architecture, to create something beautiful and memorable. Arnold relates to this in a big way, as he loves to draw and also wants to leave home (the reservation).

Still, there are complications to their relationship as well. The way in which Junior views her is one dimensional and a bit simplistic. He really loves to stare at her – she is an object of beauty for him (Chapter 15). He idealizes her to a certain extent. At one point he compares her to a "work of art" (16.1). He also seems to be very into her whiteness: "So she was all white on white on white, like the most perfect kind of vanilla dessert cake you've ever seen. I wanted to be her chocolate topping" (16.2-16.6). Do you think they have the workings of a good relationship?

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