The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
by Sherman Alexie
Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory
Turtle Lake is a beautiful destination on the reservation where Rowdy and Arnold head to swim when they are around age ten (Chapter 30). Sounds good to us, but what is up with the story of Stupid Horse that Arnold's Dad tells him? According to Arnold's Dad, the horse drowned in Turtle Lake, but his body washed up on the shore of another lake about ten miles away. The people then burned the body of Stupid Horse, but after they did the water on Turtle Lake caught fire. Freaky. Days later they all found Stupid Horse washed up on the shore on Turtle Lake again. No one messed with that corpse again. It rotted on the shore for weeks. No one swam in Turtle Lake after that.
So what does Stupid Horse mean? Is it a metaphor for something that just keeps coming back and back and back again? Like determination? Does it signify resistance? Or maybe it's just an Indian myth? A story that gets passed down? What do you think?