The fastest man ever to exist is Sherlock Holmes, he only needs five seconds to read a person. Still, he cannot read the journey of a person. Character development is the colours that fill paintings, which Sherman Alexie did brilliantly. The book is written in the perspective of a teenage Indian boy, Junior, living on a reservation. The story follows Junior’s adventure when he moves to a school full of white kids, Wellpinit. Alongside of his adventures, he slowly begins to change, which ultimately led to a compact, funny and inspiring book. In the novel, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian, Sherman Alexie establishes character development through anaphora, imagery and tone.
Sherman cleverly uses a special pattern of repetitive words, anaphora, to show character growth. Here, in the beginning, we can see that the anaphora’s Junior uses in his diary were all negative, self-deprecating and has a down putting tone. An example is when Junior describes himself to have “Ten more than usual. Ten more than normal. Then teeth past human” (Alexie 2). Whereas compared to the end of the book, we can see that the anaphora Junior used portrays more of a peaceful, heart-warming and mature tone. Alexie describes, “And he hugged me. And he hugged my mother. And she had tears in her eyes. And she held my face in her hands” (Alexie 216). Throughout the story, Junior slowly adjusts the anaphora he uses, which indicates that he develops into a more mature character. In the end, the Sherman uses anaphora to close off his adventures and to indicate a new Junior. “And the tribe of teenage boys…And the tribe beloved sons… And the tribe of boys who really missed their best friends” (Alexie 217).
In addition to anaphora, Sherman also detailed parts of Junior’s diary with imagery to further accentuate character development. In the exposition of the book when Junior was still a normal kid on the reservation, the imagery portrayed there seemed mindless, weak-willed and lost: “My hopes and dreams floated up in a mushroom cloud” (Alexie 31). Junior describes hopes and dreams. Which looking at it seems pleasant, until the end of the sentence. Alexie writes, “Floated up into a mushroom cloud” (Alexie 31). A mushroom cloud has a similar appearance to the explosion of an atomic bomb, usually giving off a negative vibe. Subsequently, when junior first arrives at Wellpinit he already defines himself as different. Junior describes the students “I could see blue veins running through their skin like rivers” (Alexie 56). This page described Junior’s first day in Wellpinit. In which he starts off with another negative imagery. Junior writes about how he sees the white kids in Wellpinit. From knowledge, we know that Junior gets discriminated for his colour. Now adding on with differentiated skin tones could further down put himself. Then moving to the end of the book Junior uses imagery differently “We played until the moon was huge and golden and perfect in the dark sky” (Alexie 230). The book ends with Junior and his best friend Rowdy playing basketball. Where the imagery Junior describes seems picture-perfect. Unlike the previous imageries, this one expressed no doubt and worries. All in all, looking at the imagery broadly, we can see that it shifts from self-deprecating feel to a harmonious feel. The progression of the imagery Junior compose shows us how Junior slowly matures as a character.
Along with using anaphora and imagery, Alexie also used tone throughout the novel to illuminate character development. In the exposition, we can see that most of what Junior writes are self-deprecating. Alexie writes, “If you’re fourteen years old … and you’re still stuttering and lisping, then you become the biggest retard in the world” (Alexie 4). Not only that he writes about how he suffers from brain damage. Additionally, his physical appearances make him feel insecure: “But my hands and feet were huge… And my skull was enormous” (Alexie 3). All of this expresses a tone of failure. Another few chapters in, when Mr P gives Junior insights to what hope looks like, the tone expressed by Junior is confusion. Both Junior and his parents were hesitant about transferring to Reardan. The tone there expresses concern and uncertainty. ““I want to go to Reardan,” I said again … it seemed as read as saying, “I want to fly to the moon”” (Alexie 46). Eventually, after making up his mind, Junior leaves for Reardan. However, he feels guilty about betraying his best friend, and his clanmates. After Junior told Rowdy, his best friend, about his situation, “he coughed and turned away from me” (Alexie 52). Rowdy is upset about Junior leaving, perhaps even angry, “My heart broke into fourteen pieces, one for each year that Rowdy and I had been best friends” (Alexie 52). Skipping ahead to the conclusion of the book, Sherman portrayed a happy ending. It seems hopeful and peaceful as a new and confident protagonist emerged. Bit by bit his confidence builds back up, “I would always love Rowdy. And I would always miss him, too. Just as I would always love and miss my grandmother, my big sister, and Eugene” (Alexie 230).
Love, hatred, death, feelings, elements that are all vital to a character. Alexie composed all of that into a single book. Still, the most intriguing part of the book was how he toyed with figurative language to implement the development of our protagonist, Junior. Ranging from the way he repeats phrases, to describing things in vivid details and setting a tone for the reader brought the book to a completed end. In the novel, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian, Sherman Alexie establishes characterization through anaphora, imagery and tone. Alexie offers a book full of alluring pages that will seize your thoughts and complete it.
- Alexie, Sherman, 1966-. “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.” New York: Little, Brown, 2007.