Study Guide

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Chapter 2

By Sherman Alexie

Chapter 2

Why Chicken Means So Much To Me

  • Our faithful narrator tells us that no matter how good he is at drawing, he is also totally poor. In fact, he is "just a poor-ass reservation kid living with his poor-ass family on the poor-ass Spokane Indian Reservation" (2.1).
  • The narrator gives us a very important math equation: "Poverty = empty refrigerator + empty stomach" (2.3).
  • He then talks about the awesome taste of KFC after a long time of not eating. A hilarious drawing of a chicken leg is included (fig 2.1).
  • But hunger, our narrator tells us, is not the worst thing about being poor. The worst thing is actually a very, very, very sad story he tells us about his best canine friend Oscar.
  • Oscar the family dog got sick, and the narrator's family couldn't afford medicine. So guess what happens? His father shoots the dog because bullets are cheaper than a visit to the vet.Ā 
  • Junior (the narrator's name, we learn) talks about his parents. He wants to blame them for their poverty, but he can't. He loves them way too much. Plus, they were born into poverty, and so were their parents. And their parents' parents. And so on. (Anyone see a cycle here?)
  • His parents had dreams, but never had anyone pay attention to them.
  • Example: Junior's mother loves to read, and has an incredible memory. His father loves old country songs, plays a little guitar, piano, and owns a saxophone.
  • Junior draws a picture in which his mother is a community college teacher and his father "the fifth-best Jazz Sax Player West of the Mississippi" (fig 2.2).
  • Being poor sucks, Junior tells us, and leads you to think all kinds of terrible things about yourself. And your race. And everything. You feel utterly helpless.
  • Speaking of helpless, Junior returns for a moment to his poor dog Oscar. Though he ran from the sound, he still heard the sound of his father's gun shooting his best friend.