Study Guide

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Poverty

By Sherman Alexie


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One of the most compelling aspects of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is that we see firsthand how devastating and totally awful poverty is not only for an individual, but for an entire community. We see how poverty has squashed hope on the reservation: how alcoholism is everywhere, a condition that leads to tons and tons of senseless death. (Arnold loses his grandmother and his sister.) Though poverty may not teach us anything (as Arnold is quick to tell us), Arnold's fight for a better life inspires us – and gives us hope that things can change.

Questions About Poverty

  1. Why does chicken mean so much to Arnold?
  2. Can you learn anything from poverty? What does Arnold think? What do you think?
  3. Why is Junior so upset about using his mother's geometry book? Would you be upset?
  4. Who did you root for during the Reardan v. Wellpinit games? Why?

Chew on This

What's the key to hope? Plain and simple: money. If you have it, the world is your oyster. If not? Well, the world can be a pretty bleak place.

While poverty itself may not teach us anything, Arnold's story of struggling against poverty – and leaving the reservation – fills us with hope. We learn not to give up, but to keep on fighting.