The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian | Study Guide

Sherman Alexie

Download a PDF to print or study offline.

Study Guide
Cite This Study Guide

How to Cite This Study Guide

quotation mark graphic


Course Hero. "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Study Guide." Course Hero. 12 Dec. 2016. Web. 17 Nov. 2018. <>.

In text

(Course Hero)



Course Hero. (2016, December 12). The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved November 17, 2018, from

In text

(Course Hero, 2016)



Course Hero. "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Study Guide." December 12, 2016. Accessed November 17, 2018.


Course Hero, "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Study Guide," December 12, 2016, accessed November 17, 2018,

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian | Chapter 3 : Revenge Is My Middle Name | Summary



Junior's friend Rowdy talks him out of his depression after Oscar's death. Rowdy is tough, with a heart "as strong and mean as a snake." Rowdy calls the bloody face wounds from his abusive, alcoholic father "war paint." He is Junior's best human friend.

Rowdy asks Junior if he wants to go to the Spokane Tribe's annual Labor Day weekend powwow. Though Junior enjoys the dancing and singing at the powwow, he'd rather not go: any Native Americans who aren't singing will likely get drunk and beat him up. Rowdy offers to protect him, an offer Junior takes seriously because of Rowdy's constant rage. Rowdy will fight anyone and anything, even the weather. Junior agrees to go to the powwow.

The dancers don't disappoint Junior; he draws a cartoon of a "chicken dancer" beside a chicken to show the similarities. When Rowdy trips, Junior laughs at him, triggering Rowdy's anger. Since Rowdy won't hurt his best friend, he destroys a nearby car. Junior runs away into the camp of the bullying Andruss triplets. The adult triplets push Junior back and forth and mock his brain disorder. Rowdy avenges Junior by cutting off the triplets' hair, which Native American men take great pride in and shaving their eyebrows while they sleep.

Junior knows Rowdy's got a soft side: he's a "big, goofy dreamer." Junior shares his dreams only with Rowdy, who likes to escape to the life inside children's comic books. Junior draws a cartoon of reading Rowdy, who is angry and reluctant to be drawn.


Junior uses math equations and metaphors to express emotionally difficult ideas in the same way he uses drawings. He's a "zero on the rez"—an underdog. Later events, both connection and grief, challenge the idea nobody would miss Junior. As he'll learn, everything he does is important. Rowdy has a much more intimate experience with violence than Junior; in many ways Rowdy's better suited for the environment of the reservation. He was born with a defensive anger, which has been a kind of armor and protection. The more vulnerable Junior uses this anger to protect himself as well.

The Junior/Rowdy friendship is the central relationship in the novel; they represent opposites in many ways, and each has skills the other wants. The tenderness and solidity of their friendship shows in their easy banter, Rowdy's genuine concern for Junior when he's hit in the head, and their common guilty pleasure in dreaming. Rowdy, Junior, and later Mary share the desire to replace the monotony and pain of their real lives with the ready-made stories in comics and novels. The novel celebrates books as escapist tools and also as tools that put lives into perspective.

Native American motifs are sprinkled into this chapter—powwow dancing, deer-hide tepees, braids—and mixed with more mainstream symbols like SUVs and minivans. Junior already lives in a combined Native American and white world. Junior appreciates his heritage (though he mocks the chicken dancers), but he feels at odds with his environment. He can't fit in with the drunken revelers at the powwow, and he responds to violence with fear. Home is a place where he doesn't belong, but it's still home.

Cite This Study Guide

information icon Have study documents to share about The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian? Upload them to earn free Course Hero access!