As a child, I wasn’t always fortunate to have someone supporting me. Most of the time I was alone, taking it day by day. In the book, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, an Indian boy, Arnold Spirit, struggles to find a path of hope and a better future. Doing so, he leaves his isolated Indian reservation and joins a white school in Reardan. He is constantly made fun of there, until he becomes friends with Penelope and joins the basketball team. Throughout the novel, Arnold’s Grandma, Coach, and Penelope support Arnold, and help him find hope in his life.
Grandma had a positive impact on Arnold by showing Arnold that he should believe in himself. Grandma supported him on his choices especially on his choice of going to school in Reardan. Arnold came home one day with a problem. He was scared that Roger would want to kick his ass for punching him in the face. Grandma reassuringly comforted him, saying that he was going to be alright and “[She thinks] it means that he respects [Arnold].”(68) Grandma also had a positive influence on Arnold. One can really tell he looks up to her because “She was tolerant.” (154) Grandma didn’t care if someone was black or white, Asian or European, or gay or straight. She knew how to accept it. “She always approached each new person and each new experience the exact same way.”(155) Grandma was very open and not ignorant, and it rubbed off on Arnold. He became more open to making new friends such as Gordy (who gets hard from reading books) and Penelope (the bulimic).
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He also admired her because of how many people she knew, and it must’ve inspired him to get himself out there. “Every powwow Indian knew her.”(157) She traveled and learned a lot about other tribes. This shows that she wanted to expand what she already= knew and to try different experiences just like Arnold did.
In addition to Grandma’s influence, Coach had caused a positive impact on Arnold’s life because Coach taught Arnold to push and believe in himself. Coach put Arnold on the varsity team “and [he] was going to be his secret weapon” (142) Coach eventually had him as a freshmen starter. Arnold started to believe in himself because he was known as “good” on his team. He also showed Arnold how to be more confident because on the reservation Arnold always felt low. At Reardan, “[he] became good because his coach and teammates expected him to be.” (180) Coach believed “Arnold would be an all-state player in a few years.”(180) This gave Arnold confidence. Coach was always there for Arnold, especially when he needed extra advice before a game. He reassured him that he would play well and calmed him down.
Not only did Grandma and Coach affect Arnold, but Penelope was another positive person who gave Arnold hope. Ever since Arnold discovered Penelope was bulimic, they’ve been sharing everything together. Penelope wanted to study architecture and Arnold supported her, just like she did to him. Penelope also made Arnold feel good about himself. For example, at the dance “Penelope and [Arnold] were so happy to be alive, and so happy to be alive TOGETHER.”(122) Arnold had something to look forward to every time he left his home to school. She didn’t care what anyone else thought, and she showed it by being friends with Arnold. More people started to like him and things got better for Arnold. She helped him believe in himself. Because she really liked him, it made Arnold feel important for that point in his life.
Overall, Arnold had plenty of support through this time period. Yes he lost close ones, but there were always those few people there for him. Grandma, Coach, and Penelope all helped him gain confidence and believe in himself.
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