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The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

This novel is a first person narrative from the perspective of a Native American teenager: Arnold Spirit Jr. He loves drawing and confesses: "I draw because I feel like it might be my only real chance to escape the reservation."

Sherman Alexie
Sherman Alexie (b.1966)

About the author

Sherman Alexie grew up on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Wellpinit, in the state of Washington. Alexie is well known for writing 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.

In this novel we meet Arnold Spirit Jr., a fourteen-year-old Native American. Arnold or Junior, as he is often called, is partly based on Alexie’s own experiences. He 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.

Chapter 1: The Black Eye of the Month Club

Read through this vocabulary list before you listen to or read 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

Chapter 1: The Black Eye of the Month Club

In Chapter 1, the narrator Arnold Spirit Jr. starts off with what happened at his birth and explains why, according to himself, he is not like everybody else. Here is a link to the first chapter of this novel, called "The Black Eye of the Month Club". You can also listen to the first chapter of the book below.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (chapter 1)

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The Black Eye of the Month Club

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Indigenous Cultures and Traditions

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