In the novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part- Time Indian by Sherman Alexie the main character, Junior’s life is affected by alcohol. In between Junior getting beat up, deaths of people he loves, and having a hard life at home, readers often forget that Rowdy faces even worse consequences from alcoholism. It started before he was even born. The fact that his parents were both alcoholics made Rowdy start life at a disadvantage. The novel never clearly states, but instead gives small clues to lead the reader to learn that Rowdy may suffer from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is disorder caused by a pregnant mothers drinking alcohol while pregnant. It’s expected that in the United States 1 in every 750 infants is born with fetal alcohol syndrome.
Rowdy shows most of the common symptoms caused by Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.
Some symptoms Rowdy struggles with because of fetal alcohol syndrome are:
1. Poor socialization skills, such as difficulty building and maintaining friendships
2. Poor problem-solving skills
3. Behavioral problems and Impulsiveness
• In the novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part- Time Indian on page 20 states,
“Then Rowdy grabbed a shovel that somebody has been using to dig barbecue holes and went after that van. Just beat the crap out of it. Smash! Boom! Bam! He dented the doors and smashed the windows and knocked off the mirrors.”
4. Inability to concentrate
5. Social withdrawal
Another symptom Rowdy shows is social withdrawal. Such as on page 103 the novel states,
“I walked away. But I stopped at the end of the driveway and looked back. I could see Rowdy in the window of his upstairs bedroom. He was holding my cartoon. He was watching me walk away.”
A new example is on page 209. The novel states,
“Yep, Rowdy had been hiding in the woods while he watched the burial.”
6. Learning difficulties
A different symptom I believe Rowdy displays is learning difficulties. For example on page 23 the novel states,
“Rowdy isn’t a fast reader, but he’s persistent.”
I think that this shows that he has to work harder to read than most kids his age and the cause of this may be fetal alcohol syndrome.
I don’t believe that it’s fair that Rowdy and so many other kids start life at a disadvantage. The fact that some kids will fall behind in school just because of their mother’s drinking before they were born is wrong. Rowdy was born will of sorts of symptoms from his mother’s drinking. The fact that he lives on the rez where no one is expected to be or do great things makes the little hope he has even more dismal. If you live with one challenge after another soon people start to lose hope. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome can snowball into horrible things and make a person’s life awful.