“Life is a constant struggle between being an individual and being a member of the community”
“Each funeral was a funeral for all of us. We lived and died together”
Converging Cultures: One of the Tribe, A Tribe of One
Introduction: a clear statement of the central theme and focus of the author.
Although the poor, grief-stricken reservation town of Wellpinit seems to be worse off than the
small, rich, white town of Reardan, Alexie shows that one can benefit from the traditions and
values of both cultures.
Style: describe the style of the author and how, if at all, his Spokane heritage
affects his writing.
Alexie has a balance in his writing style between sarcasm, humor, and deep sentimentality. He
writes the novel with an honest enthusiasm and light hearted spirit, as if the reader can see right
into Junior’s every thought on his experiences as a 14 year old teenager. Alexie balances the
humor with his serious moments about life on the reservation, on the hardship of having
alcoholic relatives, and the constant grief of losing them. Alexie’s experiences and Spokane
heritage shine through in this way; it is not hard to see in his style that he faced the hardships and
embraced the humor and traditions in the same way his character does in the novel.
III. Body of paper (about two-thirds of the report):
A. Interpret how Alexie presents the experience of growing up Indian and how his experience
differs from the other characters, i.e., Rowdy, his sister, his white girlfriend, etc.
Although this novel is about the internal struggles of one teenager in two cultures, there are
significant differences between the characters that further explain Alexie’s perspective on
growing up Indian. Junior is the main character for good reason; he is intelligent, emotional,
dynamic, and most of all, he understands the value of his heritage as well as the value of life
off the reservation. Unlike the other characters, Junior is constantly struggling with going to
school in the white town of Reardan while still living on the reservation. At first he is not
accepted in either situation, a traitor at home, a freak at school, but as the novel progresses
and Junior gradually becomes more popular at the school, he also faces more tragedies on the
reservation that mend the tension with his tribe.
Thus, Junior views his experiences on and off the reservation in a unique way because of his
heritage. He faces experiences with an Indian mindset, even when his mindset is out of the
ordinary. For example, when he first arrives at Reardan, Junior gets into a fight with the
school jock, Roger over a very racist remark. Junior hits Roger hard, expecting a fight
because he is used to fights on the reservation, often due to very minor reasons. He confuses