Study Guide

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Chapter 5

By Sherman Alexie

Chapter 5

Hope Against Hope

  • Junior gets suspended, of course, for throwing the geometry book, and his family is super disappointed in him. Especially his grandmother.
  • A week into the suspension, Mr. P comes by to visit. He tells Junior that hitting him with the book (and breaking Mr. P's nose) is probably the worst thing Junior has ever done.
  • But then Mr. P says something surprising, which is that he forgives Junior.
  • He tells Junior that when he first started working in the school, he—and the other teachers—beat the children. "We were supposed to kill the Indian to save the child" (4.40).
  • Junior is confused. Did Mr. P really kill Indians? No. He tells Junior that he was trying to "kill Indian culture" (4.42).
  • Junior is filled with hate. Big time. Mr. P apologizes to Junior now. He tells him how he hurt other Indian kids. He's almost kind of confessing (fig 5.2).
  • Mr. P begins to tell Junior about teaching Mary, Junior's sister. He says she was the smartest kid he ever taught—smarter even than Junior. She wanted to be a romance novelist.
  • Junior laughs at this idea, even though he promised Mr. P he wouldn't.
  • Mary, a budding author, had hidden her stories from others. Junior realizes that, while he was drawing pictures, his sister was doing the same thing—but with words.
  • Junior compares Mary hiding in the basement to his Dad sitting alone in his room watching basketball. He realizes his whole family is depressed.
  • Mr. P tells Junior that, like his sister, he is a bright and shining star. He's the smartest kid in the school, and he deserves better.
  • Junior is touched by all this, and he cries. He apologizes for crying. Mr. P says it's okay.
  • Mr. P and Junior talk about Rowdy. Mr. P says he'll probably only get meaner and meaner. He is, after all, being abused by his father, and he has given up.
  • Mr. P tells Junior that Junior really must leave the reservation. Everyone has given up: even Mr. P.
  • The teacher starts to cry. He then tells Junior that Junior can't give up. He threw the book at Mr. P's face, which means that something inside Junior just won't give up. No matter what.
  • Mr. P tells Junior that he must take his hope and go somewhere else—a place where other people have hope: off the reservation. He has to leave the reservation in order to find hope (fig 5.4).