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Dear Admissions Committee,
As an 8th grader, I never thought about the ways that values and qualities change what you believe, what material you value and most importantly how you act. Now, in my 9th grade English class I am forced to really dig deep into what the true definitions of qualities and values are. I came to a conclusion, through class discussions and my own thoughts, that your values and qualities change due to your political beliefs, your religion and much more, but I think there are qualities like self reliance, kindness and honesty that should not change
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
The Challenge of the In-between
There is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.
Junior is a kid I found in a book. I drive in the warmth of my car. He has to hitchhike or walk 22 miles in the heat or the cold. I complain about not having the newest shoe, he is happy having shoes that keep his feet semi-warm. I argue with my friends. He appreciates having them. Everything that seems disposable to me, means everything to him. I found Junior in a book about a kid growing up on a reservation in Spokane Washington.
Finding identity is something that can never be achieved. In the book, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, the main character Junior (also known as Arnold) goes through many difficulties with his identity. Junior spends his whole life trying to find himself and tries to finally fit in by changing his own… identity. He tries his best to be himself, but in the end he just ended up changing himself so he fits in, and others don’t judge. A prime example is when Junior leaves the Rez and goes to Reardan High School. He was an “Indian” going to a pretty much all white school—until he met Penelope and Gordy. He was all alone until he talked to Gordy and realized that Gordy would be a great friend throughout his time there. On the other hand, when he saw Penelope for the first time, he thought that she was “hot”. After a while, hanging out with them, he was able to open up and be himself.
“They stared at me, the Indian boy with the black eye and swollen nose, my going-away gifts from Rowdy. These white kids couldn’t believe their eyes. They stared at me like I was Bigfoot or a UFO. What was I doing at Reardan, whose mascot was an Indian, thereby making me the only other Indian in town?” [The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian]
Though he never said that he felt out of place, the tone the Sherman Alexie uses very clearly implies it. With everyone always sending threats and looking at him funny, he feels more different then he is. Of course he knows that he is a minority, but when everyone stares at home like he’s an alien, it only makes him feel worse. Throughout the rest of the book, Junior still struggles with his own identity, but he becomes closer with kids at Reardan and revives his friendship with Rowdy. The acceptance that the kids at his new school gave him, allowed to feel more accepted and not ashamed about who he was.
You can’t escape racism no matter how hard you try. In public Junior always went through racism. Now going to a white high school, it got even worse.
“Kid, if you get my daughter pregnant, if you make some charcoal babies, I’m going to disown her. I’m going to kick her out of my house and you’ll have to bring her home to your mommy and daddy. You hearing me straight, kid? This is all on you now.” [Hunger Pains]
In the chapter Hunger Pains, Junior meets Penelope’s father (who was racist). When he meets him, he makes many racist comments, and threatens Junior and his daughter in a more subtle way.
”Traveling between Reardan and Wellpinit, between the little white town and the reservation, I always felt like a stranger. I was half Indian in one place and half white in the other. It was like being Indian was my job, but it was only a part-time job. And it didn’t pay well at all”. [Dance, Dance, Dance]
In order to avoid a lot of racism, Junior has to play a different part in every setting. He has to act “rich” in Reardan; “I only had five dollars, not nearly enough to pay for anything—not for photos, not for food, not for gas, not for a hot dog and soda pop.” He can’t act poor or else he will get made fun of. On the other hand , on the rez he is often looked at as the kid that betrayed the rez. He is forced to act like it didn’t bother him.
Junior would always deal with racism. It just mattered how he dealt with it.
You never learn if you do the same thing all the time. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian showed me that difference is okay. At school we’ve always read challenging books, but this difference in writing and speed really let me understand the book better. Reading The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian made me change the way I read. I always read while thinking about each word. In this book instead of reading every word looking for meaning, you seek the true definition behind every metaphor and also see the meaning behind sentences and paragraphs, not just words.
Being assigned this book, I was expecting a history book that would become boring and annoying. With the direction to highlight and really think about the words. Instead it was a writing style that I wasn’t familiar with. The difference between the books that I normally read and this book, was the humor and the reading speed. A lot of books force you to read slowly, which makes it boring and others force you to read fast, which might make it confusing. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, let me read at a speed I was comfortable with. The book had countless themes. There were definitely some that stood out more than others, but they all played an important role for getting the point across. I learned that the struggle that “Indians'', Latinos and African-Americans go through is different. Though it was a book it made me feel some remorse. I felt as if I have gone through some similar things. Being a minority, at times people would make assumptions that weren’t true. This book wasn’t challenging, but it definitely made me feel different about reading. I’ve always hated reading but this book was fun and worth reading.
Earlier in the year you would’ve heard me say that I hate books and I like it when things don’t change and I know the direction everything is going. Now I accept a reading challenge and encourage some change, even just a little can make your future easier.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian taught that there’s is always two sides of a personality.
It's been a long time. How have you been? Last I saw you, you were playing soccer in Spain. Are you still there? If so, how is it going?I hope that we can meet soon, I'm eager to see you in person. I have been doing great; sports wise I’ve had plenty of fun and surprisingly enough school has been half decent. I do have this one kid in my grade, his name is Spencer. He is annoying as they come. I've tried my best to steer clear of him, but he’s everywhere.
The Bonding Experience of a Lifetime
The differences that separate human beings are nothing compared to the similarities that bring us together.
~Sophie Grégoire Trudeau
Standing around the fire at the end of the trip, the 9th grade reflected on our time at Camp Caribou. We reflected on how in stressful or hard times letting yourself relax makes the future experience that might be challenging easier. Also, the fact that excitement can be a very strong emotion. Having a good mindset going into an experience will set the tone for the whole game or strip or anything that you are trying to do. Most importantly we talked about teamwork and trust. We talked about the fact that over the years we have all made friendships and we have certain kids that we trust but on this trip, we were taught to trust others and think as a member of a team and not as an individual.