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. 9 Dec. 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 December 9, 2018, from

In text

(Course Hero, 2016)



Course Hero. "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Study Guide." December 12, 2016. Accessed December 9, 2018.


Course Hero, "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Study Guide," December 12, 2016, accessed December 9, 2018,

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian | Plot Summary

See Plot Diagram


In The Absolutely True Diary of a Party-Time Indian, Arnold Spirit Jr., called Junior by his friends and family, is a 14-year-old living in poverty with his family on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Wellpinit, Washington. To make sense of his world, he draws cartoons. Junior is nerdy, short, and artistic, with a skull deformity and thick glasses. He's bullied by kids as well as adults on the reservation. But his best friend, the athletic and aggressive Rowdy, defends him. Junior is close with his mother, father, and sister, though they often experience upheaval and conflict. For instance, Junior's father kills the sick family dog, Oscar, because they can't afford treatment.

Junior is excited to begin his first year at the reservation high school. In his geometry class he realizes that he's using the exact same textbook his mother used years ago. Infuriated by the school's poverty and lack of concern, Junior flings the book at his white teacher, Mr. P. Afterward, Mr. P visits Junior at home and urges him to leave the reservation to find hope.

Junior tells his parents he'd like to attend Reardan High, a high-achieving school in a wealthy white neighborhood. His parents are shocked but supportive. Other Native Americans in the reservation turn on Junior and consider him a traitor. Junior is devastated by the rejection of his close-knit community, and Rowdy's rejection hits him especially hard.

The first few days at Reardan confuse Junior, and his poverty makes him self-conscious. He often walks at least part of the 22 miles between school and home when his parents don't have gas money. His new classmates ignore or mock him, sometimes with racist jokes. He's used to settling conflicts with violence, but he learns this method of conflict resolution is unacceptable in his new school.

However, over time school becomes easier. Junior bonds with several Reardan students—the creative and kind Penelope, the athletic Roger, and the bright and curious Gordy. He tries out for the Reardan basketball team and, to his surprise, makes the cut. Meanwhile, Junior's older sister Mary gets married and moves to Montana.

While Junior and his sister are starting new lives, the reservation goes through its share of sorrow. Eugene, Junior's dad's generous best friend, dies a violent death, and Junior's compassionate grandmother is killed by a drunk driver. As the community mourns, Junior realizes the significance of the reservation members to his life.

He also learns his Reardan basketball team will be playing Wellpinit High School, the reservation school he left. During their first game against Wellpinit, the Native American players turn their backs on Junior, and Rowdy attacks him on the court. Junior prepares for the rematch with his coach's encouragement, eager to prove himself. Back on the court, he faces off against Rowdy and delivers an impressive victory. Though Junior's proud of his accomplishment, he realizes what the loss will mean to the Wellpinit team.

Near the end of the school year, Junior's sister Mary dies in an alcohol-related accident. The death brings Junior's family closer together, but Rowdy blames Junior for driving his sister away. Junior also becomes more aware of the devastating effects of alcohol on the reservation. When Junior's Reardan classmates support him through his grief, he learns he truly does matter to them. As the school year ends, Junior and his parents visit the graves of their family members and share a moment of connection. Later, Junior reconciles with Rowdy, and they play basketball together.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Plot Diagram

Falling ActionRising ActionResolutionClimax123456789101112Introduction


1 Junior and Rowdy go to the powwow.

Rising Action

2 Junior leaves the reservation for Reardan High School.

3 Rowdy becomes Junior's enemy.

4 Junior punches Roger at Reardan.

5 Junior and Penelope attend the school dance together.

6 Junior makes the Reardan varsity basketball team.

7 Wellpinit and Reardan high schools play their first match.

8 Grandmother and Eugene die.


9 Junior defeats Rowdy in the basketball rematch.

Falling Action

10 Mary dies.

11 Junior and his parents visit the graveyard.


12 Rowdy and Junior reconcile.

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!