Well, Rowdy would miss me, but he’d never admit that he’d miss me. He is way too tough for that kind of emotion.

While Rowdy does care for his friend Junior, he generally shows his affection in the form of physical protection rather than in emotional declarations. Rowdy has had to grow up tough – his father is physically and emotionally abusive, beating Rowdy and his mother, as well as mocking Rowdy and Junior with homophobic comments. As such, Rowdy has never been emotionally expressive, and he puts on a display of aggressive, ultra-masculine behavior. Rowdy almost never shares emotionally intimate moments with Junior, but Junior doesn’t generally need these verbal affirmations; he understands his friend on a deeper level and connects with him in other ways.

Your friend Rowdy, he’s given up. That’s why he likes to hurt people. He wants them to feel as bad as he does.

Although Junior holds a lot of affection for his tough friend Rowdy, Mr. P warns Junior that Rowdy is not heading down the same path of success that Junior is. Rowdy has experienced a lot of mistreatment, at the hands of his father and other adults in the community, but he continues the cycle of abuse by instigating fights, bullying other children, and expressing his anger in unhealthy ways. When Junior begins attending Reardan, Rowdy feels betrayed and turns this aggression on his old friend. Rowdy doesn’t know any other way to express his pain, his fear, and his sadness than by inflicting it on others.

“I’m not nomadic,” Rowdy said. “Hardly anybody on this rez is nomadic. Except for you.”

Although Junior wants Rowdy to come with him on his quest to escape the rez, Rowdy has decided that he’s not meant to leave. This realization is bittersweet for him, as there’s little good for Rowdy on the rez besides his friendship with Junior, who will soon be gone. But Rowdy is proud of his friend for finding the nomadic roots that Native tribes have lost during their centuries on reservations. He recognizes that Junior has a special spirit and gift that will allow him to go out in search of a better life, and although Rowdy knows losing Junior will be difficult, he encourages his friend to do what’s best for him.