The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Poverty, Friendship, and Gratefulness

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“Poverty is the worst form of violence”
~Mahatma Gandhi

When I  think about what I’m grateful for, I think of my nice private school, my expensive sports, and my nice clothes. But for someone like Arnold spirit, (the main character in the book I'm reading) gratefulness is as much as a couple bucks in his pocket, a ride to school, or a single friend. My problems seem minuscule to the problems of Arnold (Junior) spirit. In the book, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, a novel by Sherman Alexie, Junior suffers from extreme poverty while living on an Indian Reservation in Spokane, Washington. His best friend, Rowdy, also suffers from poverty, but they help each other through every day. This friendship goes through many ups and downs in a short time, but good friends will always come back to help you find your way.

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Letter to a Friend

Dear Louie Marobella,

WAAAAAAZ UUUUUUP? It's Matty Carolan. How's life over there at Belmont Hill? I had my tour and interview there today. It went well but I couldn't find you on campus. I also have a big football  game against Nobles tonight. should be a good game and I am hoping to get a couple of yards. Besides me, how hard are the academics at Belmont Hill because they seem hard? I think I will get by if I go there. 

I know you don’t read but there is a really simple book that you might be able to understand called The Absolutely True Diary of A Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. It is funny and the author uses a ton of good sarcasm. He openly talks about the weirdest things like masturbation and sex. That is why I think the book would be great for you. It is about a Native American kid that lives on a reservation and is very poor but he wants to change so he joins a much richer school 30 minutes away. There he gets bullied in the first couple of days then punches the bully and everyone respects him and likes him. To me, the main theme is that hopes and dreams can come true if you try to change yourself. The main character's sister moves to Montana chasing dreams then says in chapter 13, “it was a dream come true! I love my life! I love my husband! I love Montana!” (Chapter 13) This shows how if you want to be happy and want to change yourself you can, so just send it. 

This book has been a very odd read for me. The title makes it sound like a boring book but once you get into it, it is funny and witty. I have read like half of it and enjoy reading it every night. It is funny because when you look at the plot of the book it is like any other book but the author does such a good job telling his experience in funny ways and tells parts that most other authors would skip. Looking back at what I have read so far, I think I should give more books that may look bad a chance and read the first bit to see if I like it. Everyone always says to never judge a book by its cover and that goes right with this book. 

The main theme of this book is to never doubt yourself and never let anyone get in your way of making yourself better. At the beginning of the book, he goes to a bad school and wants to change that. But He knows if he does then the people on the Rez will hate him. Chapter 18 it says:

“No, no,” I said. “They call me an apple because they think I’m red on the outside and white on the inside.”
“Ah, so they think you’re a traitor.”
“Yep.”
“Well, life is a constant struggle between being an individual and being a member of the community.”

This is saying that everyone on the Rez is calling him an apple because he’s Indian on the outside (red) and white on the inside (white). This is what he was worried about when he left the Rez, but he knew that it was best for him so he didn't let anyone get in his way. He also shows resilience in "Chapter Six" when the world is against him but he still changes himself:

“All these kids have given up,” he said. “All your friends. All the bullies. And their mothers and fathers have given up, too. And their grandparents gave up and their grandparents before them. And me and every other teacher here. We’re all defeated.”
Mr. P was crying.
I couldn’t believe it.
I’d never seen a sober adult cry.
“But not you,” Mr. P said. “You can’t give up. You won’t give up. You threw that book in my face because somewhere inside you refuse to”

This is saying that his whole town has given up and if he keeps going to school there then he will too. The whole world is against him but he still makes a change to better himself. At first, he thought he couldn't do it but now he's releasing he can. He realizes that the farther he goes from the Rez the more hope and chance he will get and he says, “And now, you have to take your hope and go somewhere where other people have hope.” (Chapter 6 ) This place with hope ends up being his new school and new friends. 

Well, Louie, I knew we talked yesterday and that, weirdly enough, I’m writing a note to you about a book, but for me, it's one of the few books I can fully understand, and I think you will like it. 

Sincerely,

Matty Carolan




Camp Caribou

Challenge, Fun and Fear

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Being challenged in life is inevitable, being defeated is optional
~Roger Crawford


The three-day trip to Camp Caribou with my 21 classmates would go one of two ways. It could be the best three days I’ve had in my life, or it could be terrible and an absolute disaster. As the bus slowly came to a stop after a three-and-a-half-hour bus ride, my 21 classmates and I stood up and looked in awe at the basketball courts, tennis courts, ropes course, football fields, and giant dining hall. I was so excited when I saw all these fun elements of the camp but I hadn’t yet realized much reflection and overcoming fear and challenges could do for a 14 year old boy.

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Big Impact

I’m stupid. I don’t notice anything--at least anything important. From when I woke up on this earth to about sixth grade I had a very comfortable life and never noticed. My parents and their parents and then their parents worked hard and this was to make my life much easier. Unlike a lot of people, I had an easy life, I never worried about where my next meal was from, never worried how I was gonna get to school, never worried about what I was going to do in school or how I was going to make friends. 

But, After my sixth grade year, I looked back at the year and my life. Dang, my life was too darn easy.

You never grow when you are in a comfortable situation, you make the most growth when you are the most out of your comfort zone. This is when I started to realize that in order to become the person I want to be, I needed to challenge myself. That's when my mom suggested I should go to a new school with harder academics and athletics. This would end up being a much bigger challenge than I thought it would be. 

The first day I stepped on The Fenn School campus I had all the confidence in the world. I had no reason not to, I was raised in an environment where everything came easy and I thought that I was just different from everyone else, I thought I was better than everyone at the time. So when I came to Fenn my mindset was that this school will put me out of my comfort zone and I will make more growth in the next year than I did in the last six. This was very true, I guess you could say Fenn put me in my place. 

After that first week pretty much all the confidence I started with was gone. I had made no friends, I had a 120 word quiz in a language I don't speak in a week, and I had no clue what was happening in math. I was outside my comfort zone much more than I thought. But I was ready to fight because I knew how much growth I would make in my mindset and personality. I thought that if my grandfather worked so hard for me to have this chance at this school, I should at least try to do good in it. I wasn't going to give up on this school.

My grandfather is one of my biggest idols in life. He never got good grades in school but he was always working very hard. He started working as a shoe shiner at the age of 8 years old, then as a newspaper boy at 12, then when he got older started a newspaper business now he owns one of the largest chains of small gift stores in the country. He says that he did all this with people like me and my other family members in his mind. He wanted to work so hard just to make my life easier. Because of this I got the chance to go to the harder school and challenge myself. 

In the end, I know that I will never be as hardworking as my grandfather but I can at least make him proud in other ways. Like getting good grades and working hard for the school that he essentially paid for, and working hard to be like him.