The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
How we cite our quotes:
Okay, so now you know that I'm a cartoonist. And I think I'm pretty good at it, too. But no matter how good I am, my cartoons will never take the place of food or money. I wish I could draw a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or a fist full of twenty dollar bills, and perform some magic trick and make it real. But I can't do that. Nobody can do that, not even the hungriest magician in the world.
I wish I were magical, but I am really just a poor-ass reservation kid living with his poor-ass family on the poor-ass Spokane Indian Reservation. (2.1-2.2)
Arnold's family is poor and this pretty much determines a whole lot about Arnold. Though he tries to see himself in a positive light, he ultimately comes to the conclusion that he is just a "poor-ass kid." Notice too that Arnold's economic situation isn't specific to his family: his entire reservation is impoverished.
But I can't blame my parents for our poverty because my mother and father are the twin suns around which I orbit and my world would EXPLODE without them.
And it's not like my mother and father were born into wealth. It's not like they gambled away their family fortunes. My parents came from poor people who came from poor people who came from poor people, all the way back to the very first poor people. (2.45-2.46)
Poverty, for Arnold, is generational. It is an inherited condition, and it is not a choice. Poverty is something that you are born into. Do you think this makes it more difficult to break out of poverty? To have hope?
It sucks to be poor, and it sucks to feel that you somehow deserve to be poor. You start believing that you're poor because you're stupid and ugly. And then you start believing that you're stupid and ugly because you're Indian. And because you're Indian you start believing you're destined to be poor. It's an ugly circle and there's nothing you can do about it. (2.53)
Arnold describes the vicious cycle created when being poor and being Indian become nearly indistinguishable. How does poverty create toxic thought patterns for Arnold? How does poverty make it difficult for Arnold to have hope?