Cultural Influences in the Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Essay

Cultural Influences in the Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Essay

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Introduction
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie is a novel about Arnold Spirit (Junior), a boy from the Spokane Indian Reservation who decides to attend high school outside the reservation in order to have a better future. During that first year at Reardan High School, Arnold has to find his place at his all-white school, cope with his best friend Rowdy and most of his tribe disowning him, and endure the deaths of his grandmother, his father’s best friend, and his sister. Alexie touches upon issues of identity, otherness, alcoholism, death, and poverty in order to stay true to his characters and the cultures within the story. Through the identification of the role of the self, identity, and social behavior within the book, the reader can understand Arnold’s story to a greater depth.
Self and Identity Topics in the Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
In the story, Arnold’s perception of himself changes and is essential to understanding his evolution as a character. According to Matsumoto and Juang (2013) self-construals or self-concepts are “the ideas or images that one has about oneself and how and why one behaves” (p.343). An independent self-construal sees the self as “a bounded entity, clearly separated from relevant others” and with a focus on the individual’s qualities (Matsumoto & Juang, 2013, p. 345). Meanwhile, the interdependent self-concept is “unbounded, flexible, and contingent on context” and with an emphasis on relationships (Matsumoto & Juang, 2013, p. 346). In the novel, we can see the coexistence of the self-construals in Arnold. In the beginning Arnold decribes himself as “a poor-ass reservation kid living with his poor-ass family on the poor-ass Spokane Indian Reservation” ...


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...Conclusion
By identifying examples of the coexistence of interdependent and independent self-construals, the fluidity of identity, ingroup and outgroup interactions, and aggression within cultures of honor the reader can gain a greater understanding of Arnold’s story and his tribe. Arnold’s self-construal appeared much more independent and his collective identity, as perceived by himself and others, changed due to his choice to attend Reardan. Meanwhile, ingroup and outgroup relations can explain his tribe’s response to his actions. Lastly, the level of violence within the Spokane Indian culture reflects its emphasis on reputation and honor.






References
Alexie, S. (2009). The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.
Matsumoto, D., & Juang, L. (2013). Culture and Psychology (5th ed.). Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.

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