Sherman Alex’s Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian is a Novel, written in 2007. It may be categorized as a novel for young adults, being a first- person narrative of Arnold Spirit, a young cartoonist. The book reveals the details of the boy’s life in the Spokane Indian Reservation and his subsequent transfer to Reardan, an off- reservation town where he joins a high school for whites. The novel takes us through tough incidences, experienced by the characters. The ideas in this novel revolve around hope, its importance and how it helps people stay afloat. The book demonstrates people and communities that lose hope and illustrates the consequences that follow this. Nevertheless, in the advent of hope fear prevails. Both aspects play crucial albeit conflicting roles in determining the events in the novel.
In the book, various characters portray hope and optimism. Arnold is extremely hopeful, despite the various occasions where he gets into despair. Arnold’s parents have hopes and plans, but their ambitions fail due to fear. Mary becomes a victim of fear of the future despite her dreams. Penelope has dreams that one day she would leave Reardan to continue her education abroad. The themes of hope and fear manifest themselves in the occurrences in the character’s life. Arnold, his parents, Penelope and Mary, have played a crucial role in advancing these themes.
Arnold may be described as a hopeful character. He demonstrates hope when joins high school, despite mistreatments advanced to him by his colleagues due to his looks. Arnold exhibits a lot of hope and optimism when he agrees to join an all-white school being an Indian. This action took a lot of hope and courage. Arnold lived in the hope that he would be an outstanding basketball player. He says that in the reservation he was the only fair player, but it took hope and confidence to be an ardent player he became in Readan. In chapter 23 he says that he wanted to live up to his expectations. The positive thinking and hope, emanating from the coach and the team, propelled him to his achievements. Arnold attributes his victory against Rowdy to the hope that he derived from his family.
Nevertheless, Arnold’s hopes seem to conflict with fear. Arnold is afraid of poverty. He thinks that poverty is the principal restraining factor. He thinks that his tribe may be destined to be poor. He exhibits despair when he finds old books at the reservation school; he loses confidence with the school. Fear of poverty also restrains him from pursuing Penelope. He even pretends to be rich the night he takes her out for dinner. Arnold exhibits fear of defeat, he is hesitant to join the Reardan school team because he is afraid of meeting Rowdy in the competition. He gets a lot of trouble to eliminate this fear. Arnold’s hope to leave the reservation conflicts with the fear of discrimination caused by his race. He is also afraid that he might be inadequate.
Penelope is fearful for her state of being bulimic. Junior finds her in the bathroom crying. She says that she might not be as perfect, beautiful and intelligent as people may think. When Arnold comforts her, she finds hope that she could be fine. Finally, she finds someone with whom to confide. When Penelope and Arnold fall in love, she is faced by the fear that her tribal father could stop them from having any relationship. This occurs when her father tells Arnold to keep away from her and that if he advanced further, she would be disowned. Penelope has the hope that she would advance her studies abroad. She says that she wants to leave Reardan, to travel and to visit the places like the Egyptian pyramids and Mount Everest. She has a hope of going to Stanford to study architecture. This event may be viewed as a conflict of hope and fear. Penelope may be viewed as the one who is fearful of the mediocrity surrounding in Reardan. She says that people there have “small dreams” and “small ideas” (Alexie 187).
Arnold’s sister Mary was hopeful. She was a beautiful and funny woman (Alexie 28) Mr. Pexplains told that Mary had a hope of becoming an author. She wanted to write romantic books. She also had a hope of leaving the reservation completely. Her hopes are shattered by her failure to join the college after high school. She runs away from the reservation to marry an Indian in Montana due to her fear of failure. Through this, she hopes to find a decent job and get sweet life, but her fancy life is short lived. She hardly gets any job. Due to the fear for poverty, she starts her book. She becomes frustrated and resorts to alcohol. Her hopes and dreams are ultimately shattered when a plate is burning in the fire that, resulting in the couple’s tragic death.
The novel hopeful characters may be faced by fear that seems to toughen their path to success. Different characters are seen to struggle with the fear but they are described being inspired by hope. Even when Arnold is facing fears of poverty, discrimination and defeat, he gathers hope that propels him to success. Arnold is able to study in an all-whites high school, emerge a top basketball scorer and win a white girl’s heart due to his unrelenting hope.
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Penelope’s hope makes her achieve her dream, despite the fear for rejection from the father. Mary seems to lose due to her loss of hope in the advent of fears. The hopeful and relentless characters seem to prosper amid fears. After much determination, Arnold fights his fears, discovers his joys and emerges victoriously. Hope is stronger than fear, it is the power of hope that has no limit and is full of hope. One can conquer even the least pleasant situations.
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