The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

by: Sherman Alexie

Chapters 19-21

By chanting “Arnold sucks” and cheering against Junior, the Wellpinit crowd continues to betray the bullying and violence that trouble their community. To use the language of sports contests, they are unsportsmanlike. Junior sees it as symbolic that Rowdy is the only Indian not to turn his back on him. Perhaps their friendship is still alive deep down? Once again, Junior laughs when he feels he’d rather cry. But, from Junior’s perspective, the real tragedy of the first Wellpinit versus Reardan basketball game isn’t Wellpinit’s staggering defeat, but the fact that he never even gets his chance to participate. Junior isn’t allowed to play in the sports theater, even though, behind the scenes with Eugene, Junior shows great courage and determination. Coach’s behavior after Junior is hospitalized stands in stark contrast to Junior’s father’s behavior over the holidays. Coach gives encouragement and support and serves as a father figure for Junior. Junior’s dad, meanwhile, cannot handle the pressures of parenting. He is sometimes incapable of giving Junior support. Junior is forced, then, into the awkward position of being responsible for himself and his dad because Junior’s dad has been irresponsible and reckless.