Individual Vs Community In The Absolutely True Diary Of A Part-time Indian

The society is brutal. It’s an unforgiving community, where people are constantly fighting to maintain their individuality while still being part of the collective. Sherman Alexie demonstrates this in The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian. She shows how living as an individual can impact our everyday lives.

Throughout the book we are shown many examples of how difficult it is to maintain your individuality. Junior declares “I’m going to Rearden”, and then I confirm it. I could not believe that I said it. I thought it was just as real for me as if I had said, “I wanted to fly to the Moon” (45). Junior’s journey to becoming an independent person is evident at this stage of the book. However, it took a great deal of effort for him to reach that point. As an Indian, Rowdy’s best friend and family are the hardest to leave. No one else has ever done this. Junior’s decision to stay is a strong representation of his individuality and the hardships that come with it. Junior knows he will receive a lot of criticism for his decision to leave, but he still sticks with his decision because, ultimately, it is in his best interest and will help him further his education.

The novel is also a theme of peer pressure and comforting feelings of being with the group. When Junior reflects on a shared memory with Rowdy, he remarks, “It was not really up for debate.” I had to go up the tree. I could not give in. It was just not the way we were friends’ (225). Junior had no idea that he would climb the branch, but did so anyway because Rowdy might make fun if Junior did not. It is clear that the community is represented by peer pressure in this book. Junior felt under pressure to conform to the ‘community,’ which is a good example of how society works.

To be a real individual, you must have the courage to stand up to authority and make your point. Gordy is an example where he stood up to the teacher in Junior’s favor. Alexie writes, “He dropped the textbook while standing with it. Whomp! He looked so strong. He looked so strong’ (175). Gordy put down his book to show Junior that he supports him. Gordy showed courage by standing up to the community. His decision to challenge his teacher shows the importance of individual vs. group.

Junior’s struggle in highschool is a good example of what people go through every day in order to remain unique in their community. In today’s society, it’s important to fit in. But individuality can be just as beautiful. We are constantly faced with examples of community vs. individual in our everyday lives. Next time, consider your decision carefully.


  • ernestfarley

    Ernest is a 26-year-old education blogger and teacher who writes about a variety of topics related to teaching and learning. He has a passion for helping others learn and grow, and believes that education should be accessible to everyone. Ernest is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, and he has taught high school students in the United States, Mexico, and Chile.