November 3, 2014
Professor Crammond Identity Crisis
“I was born with water on the brain” (10). In this first sentence from his novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Sherman Alexie tells us how the main character Junior views himself from others. One of the problem with Junior’s life is identity and individuality. He battles to find his individual identity within his cultural identity. In Junior’s life in it is evident that he must leave one identity to explore another identity, his character must leave and return to his roots before truly understanding himself. By seeing himself as a member of many different tribes, Junior is able to develop new identity. Junior spends the whole novel pursuing a better education beyond the reservation while still holding on to his identity as a Spokane Indian. I believe that just like Junior we all need to move between personal and social identies to move forward in life.
Junior is faced with the main problem of identity because of his family. Junior’s identity is connected with his family. They are all members of the Spokane Indian Tribe this is their shared identity. The common factor of this tribe is the fact that they are all born into poverty. In the beginning of the novel, when Junior is describing his family and the life of Indians on the Spokane Reservation, he describes the poverty that he experiences. Junior’s poverty is described as a sense of helplessness because of the way his tribe dealt with poverty, and they had all lost hope in themselves. Junior states that his mother would have been a psychology teacher and his father a musician if they accomplished their dreams. (12). However, Junior’s identity was connected with his tribe and family he was different because he wanted to pursue his education. In order to move forward he had to challenge his social identity of being a Spokane Indian. Junior’s social identity was already determined because of the group of people he belonged to. Junior decision to leave the reservation was for himself. This is very critical moment because the unwritten rules of his social identity of the tribe is that you live & die on the reservation. Junior had hope that was connected to his personal identity. However, when Junior starts school at Reardon he discovers that he does not belong at Reardon. His Spokane Indian identity still affects the way people see him and the way he sees the world. Junior states, “Reardon was the opposite of the rez. It was the opposite of my family. (insert page #). Junior discovered his identity was missing. Junior saw himself either was a part time Indian on the reservation, or he was a member of Reardon, but he thought he could not be both.
Later on in the novel Junior discovers that his identity comes from within himself, and not from his environment. Junior is optimistically in charge of what he thinks of himself, and he realizes in fact that he belongs to many different tribes. For example he belongs to the tribe of cartoonist, teenage boys, and Pacific Northwesters .Self-identity is referred to as what an individual might think about themselves. Junior was unsure about what he was at the beginning of the novel he viewed himself different from others because of his physical impairments, but towards the end of the novel he realized he belongs to many different tribes. He belonged to many different tribes because of the fact that he had many things in common with a lot of people. The main concept of social identity is to be connected with similar groups of people. His identity changed when he transferred to Reardan. At first he was hesitant to change his life, but Mr. P. inspired him to change his life for the better. His identity is also a result of how he is perceived by the people around him. Finally he took control of his life and changed it to the better.
Junior felt like a "part-time Indian" he acted like an Indian on the reservation, but he also