The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
by Sherman Alexie
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Poverty Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations for the text follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph); for art and illustrations: (Chapter.Illustration)
"Can I ask you something big?"
"Yeah, I guess."
"Are you poor?"
I couldn't lie to her anymore.
"Yes," I said. "I'm poor." (17.109-17.115)
Arnold finally comes clean with his white friends when he confesses to Penelope that he's poor. What is Penelope's reaction? Is his life better once he tells them the truth about his family?
I picked up the other boot and dug inside. Man, that thing smelled like booze and fear and failure.
I found a wrinkled and damp five dollar bill.
"Merry Christmas," he said.
Arnold's family is totally broke during Christmas, and his father disappears to go on a drinking binge. When he returns, he gives Arnold a five-dollar bill. It's a small sum of money, but it means a quite a bit. Why is the gesture so incredibly important to Arnold?
And then I realized something.
I realized that my team, the Reardan Indians, was Goliath.
I mean, jeez, all of the seniors on our team were going to college. All of the guys on our team had their own cars. All of the guys on our team had iPods and cell phones and PSPs and three pairs of blue jeans and ten shirts and mother and fathers who went to church and had good jobs.
Ok, so maybe my white teammates had problems, serious problems, but none of their problems was life threatening.
But I looked over at the Wellpinit Redskins, at Rowdy.
I knew that two or three of those Indians might not have eaten breakfast that morning.
No food in the house.
I knew that seven or eight of those Indians lived with drunken mothers and fathers.
I knew that one of those Indians had a father who dealt crack and meth.
I knew two of those Indians and fathers in prison.
I knew that none of them was going to college. Not one of them.
And I knew that Rowdy's father was probably going to beat the crap out of him for losing this game. (25.248-25.259)
The basketball games between Reardan and Wellpinit are complicated for us, as readers, since we are cheering for Arnold, but we also kind of want the underdogs at Wellpinit to win. How are the two teams very, very different when it comes to class, money, and opportunities? Who did you root for in the game? Who do you think has "bigger hearts" (25.117)?