Study Guide

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Chapter 20

By Sherman Alexie

Chapter 20

Reindeer Games

  • Arnold contemplates trying out for the basketball team at Reardan, but isn't sure he can cut it.
  • In order to inspire him to "dream big" (20.15), Arnold's father tells him a story about how he met Arnold's mother. He was five, and she was thirteen. She helped him get a drink from a water fountain. Arnold is kind of weirded out by this.
  • Anyhow. Arnold signs up for basketball.
  • On the first day of practice, the coach (fig 20.1) tells the kids that, due to budget cuts, sixteen of them have to be cut. Let the games begin!
  • After the first drill (one hundred laps around the gym) four guys walk out.
  • The second drill is full-court one-on-one. The coach throws Arnold the ball, and guess who he's paired up with? The huge and hulking Roger. Gulp.
  • Roger dunks on Arnold, but Arnold is determined so he takes him on again. This time Arnold races across the floor trying to outrun Roger and the ball bounces into the stands. Not deterred, Arnold runs to retrieve the ball.
  • Arnold runs to the hoop and takes a shot about fifteen feet away. He makes it. The crowd cheers.
  • The two play a bit more, and Coach calls for the next team.
  • Roger and Arnold bump fists. He's a "warrior" now! (20.96).
  • Arnold, the best shooter Coach has ever seen, ends up making varsity.
  • Reardan's first game is against Arnold's old school, Wellpinit High. Arnold vomits four times on the day of the game.
  • As the team walks into the gym, the rez fans are chanting "Ar-nold sucks! Ar-nold sucks!" (20.113). There are even security guards on hand who walk out with the Reardan team.
  • When the crowd sees Arnold, they turn their backs on him. (That's cold.) All except Rowdy, who wants to kill him. All Arnold can do is laugh.
  • Coach tells Arnold to use his emotions to get mad and win.
  • During the first quarter, Coach sends Arnold in. As he runs to the court, someone in the stands throws a quarter at him and hits him in the head.
  • Arnold starts bleeding and so can't play.
  • Eugene, Arnold's Dad's best friend, comes to the locker room to take Arnold to get stitches. Arnold makes Eugene stitch his head up so he can play that night. Eugene does.
  • In the third quarter, Coach sends Arnold back into the game. He steals a pass, jumps into the air, and then gets smashed in the head and knocked unconscious by Rowdy.
  • The rest of the evening is related to him second hand: the teams got into a shoving match, and then the referees were terrified because they thought the Indian crowd would riot if they didn't win. So they called a bunch of technical fouls and basically let Wellpinit take a bunch of free throws. Wellpinit won by thirty points.
  • Arnold ends up with a minor concussion and three stitches. Coach visits him in the hospital and tells him he's never met someone as committed as Arnold.
  • Since Arnold isn't supposed to sleep because of the concussion, Coach stays in the hospital with Arnold, telling him stories.