INDIAN

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Topics: Sherman Alexie
Question 1: In the chapter, "Rowdy Sings the Blues," (48-53) Rowdy yells, “Don’t touch me, you retarded fag!" at Arnold. The language is offensive. It’s hurtful, ignorant, and crude, but it’s not uncommon to hear young boys talk that way. Why does Rowdy use that language? In Sherman Alexie’s novel, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian, Arnold’s best friend Rowdy calls him a “retarded fag” for transferring at the start of their freshman year of high school. Due to his background as a child, Rowdy uses cruel language and hurtful gestures anytime Arnold and Rowdy came face to face. In the chapter Revenge is my Middle Name; Arnold compares Rowdy to a snake, stating he is one of the “toughest kids on the rez… his heart is strong and mean like a snake, too” (15). His heart has calcified due to the physical abuse his father has endured on him and his mother. Rowdy calls his bruises and cuts “war paint” because it makes him look fierce (16). Arnold was the only good thing on the reservation that Rowdy had to look forward too so when Arnold decided to leave, it unleashed a new kind of relationship between the boys, one not so friendly. One example would be when Rearden played Wellpoint in the first basketball game of the season, Rowdy knocked Arnold out and gave him a concussion. Another instance would be in the chapter, “Rowdy Gives Me Advice about Love” when Rowdy replies to Arnold’s message, “Hey asshole, I’m sick of Indian guys who treat white women like bowling trophies” (115). He uses offensive language but shows that he still cares for his best friend by simply responding. When Arnold finds Rowdy crying in the bushes at Mary’s funeral, his reaction was to punch Arnold to show how emotionally strong he was. In reality, Rowdy felt disposable and abandoned. Rowdy acted out because he didn’t want Arnold to know how much his leaving the reservation hurt him. All these destructive behaviors are evidence that he does in fact care for Arnold in a

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