© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian


by Sherman Alexie

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Theme of Tradition and Custom

In The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Arnold comes from the Spokane Indian Reservation in Wellpinit, Washington, a place built on tradition and custom. Arnold describes his culture for us in full detail: powwows, fry bread, and many, many funerals. What is Arnold's relationship to these traditions and customs? Arnold also tells us that Indian families tend to stay in one place, a tradition that makes it hard for Arnold to leave the reservation.

What are the traditions and customs of the folks in the white town of Reardan? Do Reardan and Wellpinit share any traditions or customs? What about basketball?

Questions About Tradition and Custom

  1. Why doesn't Junior want to go to the powwow?
  2. What is significant about Junior's grandmother's funeral?
  3. How are Indian families different from white families, according to Arnold?
  4. Why does Billionaire Ted collect Indian art? Why does Arnold dislike Billionaire Ted?
  5. Why is basketball important to the reservation and to Reardan?
  6. How are the funerals of Mary and Junior's grandmother different?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

By leaving the reservation, Arnold breaks with the tradition of his people and hopes to find a new life – and a new identity.

By becoming "nomadic," Arnold doesn't break with his people's tradition. He merely continues a traditional part of his culture that had been long forgotten.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...