Race is a pretty huge deal for The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Why? Because it gives Arnold Spirit, Jr. a good deal of trouble in his search for self. Arnold feel like he's only half an Indian – or as he says a "part-time Indian" – once he transfers to the white school of Reardan. He then gets split into two: Junior on the Indian reservation and Arnold in his white high school. This all suggests that one's racial or ethnic identity can change depending on place or social setting.
As Arnold tells us, being an Indian also means being poor. Race and class are deeply connected.
Arnold sees himself as half-Indian and half-white. This suggests that racial identity can change depending on situation.