Jr. is convinced that he is weak and cannot fend for himself. He thinks himself lucky to have Rowdy for a friend… and he’s right. Rowdy has protective instincts towards Arnold, Jr. knows that “…Rowdy has a temper and stuff…but he’s been nice to me since we were kids” (41). And while there can be many explanations as to why Rowdy likes Arnold, he is just happy is has someone to protect him. I speculate the reason Rowdy protects Jr. is because “…Rowdy’s dad hits him…” (41). His parents treat him poorly and he is neglected by his family and everyone else on the rez. He goes to extreme measures in order to keep Arnold safe, him being the only friend of his and the only one who cares about him. Arnold is lucky to have a more or less “good” family. He knows that even though his parents rarely show it “…my parents love me so much that they want to help me” (46). They care about Arnold and his well-being. A good example would be his father saving five dollars for Arnold after coming home drunk at Christmas. He could’ve easily spent the money on a bottle of cheap whiskey to keep himself drunk, yet in his drunken haze he remembered to bring Jr. the present. While it smelled like old shoe and wasn’t exactly very generous, the gesture was there and it was definitely important to Arnold. I would say his sister Mary cares about Arnold too but has just given up hope. We later find out that the reason she was depressed was because she lost her dream of becoming a writer. Arnold realizes he needs the full support of his friends and family, something not easily gained in his position as his “Dad is a drunk and Mom is an ex-drunk…” (46) That’s the reason why he desperately tries to find and keep friends amongst those he knows. He needs someone he can relate to, another outcast like him. Someone that goes through the same neglect Arnold goes through every day, or at least something of the sort.
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