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

Sherman Alexie

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The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian | Chapter 30 : Talking About Turtles | Summary



Junior praises the beauty of the reservation, especially its pine trees. One pine tree in particular, over 100 feet tall, grows beside Turtle Lake. Junior recalls climbing the tree with Rowdy when they were 10.

It was a hot day, and they'd decided to go swimming. There are lots of myths and legends about the lake, stories invoking ghosts and monsters. In a story that especially scares Junior, the lake caught on fire and the body of Stupid Horse, a horse that had drowned in the lake, resurfaced.

Rowdy and Junior scaled the tree almost to the top. From there the reservation looked "green and golden and perfect." Now, Junior can't believe they climbed to that height. He also can't believe he survived his first year at Reardan. He misses Penelope, Roger, and his other friends. He feels good about the future.

As Junior is killing time in the house that summer, Rowdy comes in, saying he's bored. Surprised to see his friend, Junior considers making Rowdy apologize. Instead, he asks Rowdy if he wants to shoot some hoops. The two play basketball for a while before Junior again asks Rowdy to come to Reardan. Rowdy says he's been reading a book about nomadic Native American tribes. He says the tribes reminded him of Junior, moving around constantly, and that he always knew Junior would leave to travel the world. Junior thinks about the people he'll always love on the reservation, alive and dead. He hopes they'll forgive him for leaving. He and Rowdy play basketball long into the night, without keeping score.


In the plot's resolution the two friends reconcile, each with uncertain futures. Junior passes on a few stories from his tribe, reminding himself of the deep history of the reservation, weird though their stories may be. His tribe is old and strong, like the ancient pine trees. The last chapter is, in part, an elegy and love song for the native land Junior has left.

As scared as he is of the lake and its ghosts of turtles and horses, Rowdy gives him courage to go. Now Junior is trying to do the same thing for Rowdy. Junior's assessment that last year was "before we knew stuff" implies the year has been a learning experience for them both. Based on Rowdy's response, he's not likely to come to Reardan—but as he says, "Who knows anything?" Maybe there is hope for Rowdy.

Junior wants both Rowdy's forgiveness and his apology, but he knows he's not likely to get either, at least not in so many words. The friends have both wronged each other. They joke around real pain, but at least they're back on their old turf with insults. Toward the end, Rowdy opens up for the first time perhaps since Junior's known him. And he gives Junior an identity he's proud to claim: that of old-time nomad.

The last line, "We didn't keep score," indicates their friendship, and Junior's perception of life, have moved beyond winning and losing. They don't need to prove themselves constantly; they've already done so. The year has taught them bonds between people matter more than success.

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