Study Guide

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Chapter 8

By Sherman Alexie

Chapter 8

How To Fight Monsters

  • The next morning Junior's dad drives him to the school in Reardan. He tells Junior to remember that the white kids aren't better than him, but Junior, convinced of his loser-dom, thinks this is absolutely not true.
  • Junior gets out of his Dad's car and stands in front of the school with his black eye from Rowdy and a Glad garbage book bag (fig 8.2). All the kids stare at him like he was "Bigfoot or a UFO" (8.27). The only other Indian at the school, after all, is the mascot (fig 8.1).
  • Junior enters the school where he meets Melinda in the front office. She gives him his schedule, his ID, and directs him to his homeroom. Junior thinks she's pretty hot for an "old woman" (8.42).
  • Junior enters his class and everyone falls quiet. He sits down behind a pretty blond girl, Penelope, who makes our hormonal narrator "emotionally erect" (8.52).
  • Penelope asks his name, and he tells her "Junior." She and her girlfriends laugh at this name. Junior thinks this is strange.
  • The teacher calls roll, and we finally learn our narrator's actual name: it's Arnold Spirit. (This seems significant, no?)
  • Penelope then accuses Arnold of not telling her his real name. Junior tries to tell her that his name is both Junior and Arnold. He's like two people "inside of one body" (8.73)—Junior on the rez and Arnold here at school.
  • Moving on, Arnold tells us that about a week later he gets into a fight, but first, he relates the "Unofficial and Unwritten Spokane Indian Rules of Fisticuffs" (8.86).
  • There are eleven rules in all and basically they all boil down to this: if anyone does anything remotely insulting to you or your family (or you think they might), then you have to fight them. This includes girls.
  • Arnold has lived his life by those rules and so far has won five fights and lost one hundred and twelve. (Not a great record, we think.)
  • Anyhow, Arnold's first fight at Reardan: Arnold gets bullied during the first week by a bunch of the big jock guys (fig 8.4). They don't beat him up, though, they just call him names, mostly having to do with Arnold being an Indian.
  • One day at lunchtime, one of the jocks, Roger, tells Arnold a horrible racist joke (8.119). Junior is, of course, infuriated.
  • Since he has been insulted, and since he lives by the "Indian Rules of Fisticuffs," Junior punches Roger dead in the face.
  • Roger is so shocked he can only stare at Junior. Junior then tells him to meet him after school to finish the fight. Roger thinks Junior is crazy. Junior is confused. Didn't kids here follow the rules of fighting? Apparently not.