The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie te lls the story of Junior, a boy growing up on a reservation who has to battle with violence, alcohol , and the racial tensions with the white people. He learns how to deal with these things through the help of new friends and enemies. Junior experiences the deadly effects of alcohol by watching those close to him dying from it. He also learns that he is capable of achieving more than what the rest of his reservation has done and he learns to overcome the obstacles that stand in his way of accomplishing his dreams. This book should not be banned because it shows readers the effects of alcoholism, achieving their potential, and how to overcome setbacks in everyday life.
Arnold's community is engulfed in alcoholism and it seems that everyone has a serious drinking problem that eventually leads to death. He describes the death of everyone around him who has been affected by alcohol and knows that they will never stop drinking. Although alcoholism may not be suitable for younger readers in this novel, it shows the true outcome of this issue and may help to teach readers that this is a problem that they do not want to be part of. Being an alcoholic destroys the sense of reality and perspective while intoxicated. Later on in the book, Junior sees this again, but with his grandmother when she is killed by a drunk driver. Junior and his family go to the hospital to see if she can be saved. His grandmother dies during the emergency surgery and Junior observes his mother and father as they receive the bad news. Junior has witnessed a close family member dying and he reflects that "when anybody, no matter how old they are, loses a parent, [he thinks] it hurts the same as if you were only five years old" (157) . This is just one of the ways that the author conveys the message of the outcomes of alcoholism. Only a couple of weeks later, his father's best friend, Eugene, is shot in the face by another drunken man. By this point, Junior has already lost so many important and influential people in his life that he begins to become blunt with the reader and tell them how it is. He explains that "Eugene was shot and killed by one of his good friends, Bobby, who was too drunk to even remember pulling the trigger. The police think Eugene and Bobby fought over the last drink in a bottle of wine" (169). Immediately the reader is given a sense of shock when they read about Eugene's death. The author illustrates pictures of people drunk and how they act strange and do not think clearly. This sends a strong message to the readers that not only can they destroy their friends and family, they can put themselves in life threatening situations over a fermented yeast beverage. Alcohol has proven to be a significant element of the novel that the reader will never forget about.
Friends can also change the lives of others around them by influencing them by bullying or peer pressure. Junior's best friend, Rowdy, is known for creating trouble and starting fights. He constantly has to protect Junior from the other people around the reservation because they like to pick on him. Junior is grateful that Rowdy has "protected [Junior] since [they] were born" (17) because without his help, Junior would probably be dead by now. Although Rowdy has protected him, Junior is fully aware that Rowdy is extremely dangerous and can lose his temper at any time. When Junior leaves the reservation school to go to a white school with a better education system, he knows that Rowdy and the rest of the reservation people will not tolerate his decision to leave. He becomes shunned by his old friends and he becomes an enemy of Rowdy. Instead of cowering in fear, Junior ignores all of the people who told him that he was wrong and continue s to follow his dream of getting a better education. This teaches readers to not hold back from their dreams and