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The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Published: 29.01.2010, Updated: 03.03.2017
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The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

What is it like to be an American Indian today? The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is a novel written by Sherman Alexie who is well known for his novels and short stories about life on the reservation and the challenges that the USA's native population face today. In his work he draws upon his own experiences.

Read the first two chapters from Alexie's novel and meet fourteen year old Arnold Spirit – based on a young version of the author himself.

Sherman Alexie, the author of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, grew up on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Wellpinit, in the state of Washington.   

Sherman AlexieSherman Alexie  In the novel we meet Arnold Spirit Jr., a fourteen-year-old Indian. The character is partly based on Alexie’s own experiences.  Arnold or Junior as he is often called, is the reservation outcast – an outsider – and he is routinely bullied and beaten up. His parents are alcoholics and the family poor. At times, poverty is just terrible and thus Arnold sometimes wishes that he could draw "a fist full of twenty dollar bills, and perform some magic trick and make them real".

Arnold, like Sherman Alexie, makes a choice to leave the reservation and attend the white school 22 miles away in Reardan. Considered a traitor, Arnold is caught between two worlds: his home on the reservation and the white high school he attends.

Check these words before you read/listen to chapter 1:

Vocabulary

rez=reservat
cerebral=som tilhører/tilhøyrer hjernen
spinal fluid=spinalvæske
grease=olje
orbit=jordklode
retard=tilbakestående/tilbakeståande
seizure=anfall (ofte om epilepsi)
purchase=kjøp
brain damage=hjerneskade
stutter=stamme
lisp=lespe
cartoon=tegneserie/teikneserie
mini-hoover= en liten støvsuger/ein liten støvsugar

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Chapter 1: The Black Eye of the Month Club

Chapter 1 starts with the narrator "I" being Arnold Spirit and what happened at his birth - he is not like everybody else. How so? What is it like not being one of the crowd? Read the first chapter, "The Black Eye of the Month Club", to find out: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. You can also listen to the first chapter of the book below.

The Black Eye of the Month Club   

Chapter 2: Why Chicken Means so Much to Me

Growing up in poverty means that you may go hungry, and that sleep is the only thing you have for dinner.  What do you think is the worst thing about being poor? According to Arnold, what is the worst thing about being poor? Read Chapter 2, "Why Chicken means so Much to Me", to find out. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian  .

 

Tasks and Activities

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian – Tasks 

 

Interview with Sherman Alexie. In this interview, Sherman Alexie talks about The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian and relates the story of his own life. He tells about his health problem as a child, life on the reservation, how alcoholism touched his family and the decision that would change his life forever - the decision to leave the reservation.

 

Native Americans - Current Situation 

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