In the book the Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie one major theme is the impact of alcoholism. This book is about a 14 year old boy named Junior who is living on the Spokane Indian reservation and struggling with his of heritage. Alcoholism affects Junior’s life on the reservation drastically. Many of Junior’s family members and friends have lost their lives to alcoholism related tragedies, Sherman Alexie’s depiction of behaviors of alcoholics and impact drunk driving are two ways that help readers feel sympathy for Junior.
One of the most common behaviors is being in denial. The different types of denial that are seen throughout alcoholics are “What problem,” “I’m not that bad,” “I just want a little bit of relief,” and “I’m not hurting anybody but myself “(3). In the book alcoholics, including junior’s dad are portrayed as like they are drinking away their miseries. For many Indians, life on the reservation is terrible and they want to drink away the pain.
Alcoholics can also have violent behaviors. “His father is drinking hard and throwing hard punches, so Rowdy and his mother are always walking around with bruised and bloody faces.” “My mother and father are drunks, too, but they aren’t mean like that. Not at all.” (Alexie page 18). In this book Sherman uses both types of behaviors in two different characters. 7.2% or 17 million of adults are alcoholics (2). In the book the percentage of alcoholics on the reservation is inaccurate.
Drunk driving is a huge problem in America. It is also a problem in Junior’s community. ”Grandparents are supposed to die first, but they’re supposed to die of old age. They’re supposed to die of a heart attack or stroke or of cancer or of Alzheimer’s. THEY ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO GET RUN OVER AND KILLED BY A DRUNK DRIVER!” (Alexie 158) Many people he knows and his close family members have been killed from drunk driving. 32% of people ages 21 to 24 are drunk drivers (1). In the book drunk driving has occurred many times, in the book drunk driving seems more common than the statistics. On reservations the number of deaths caused by alcohol, including drunk driving is 1 in 10 (4). Sherman Alexie is not accurate based on national statistics.
Based on statistics from MADD (1), NIAAA (2), Floyd P Garett, M.D (3), and NBC Addictions (4) the depiction of behaviors is accurate but the number of alcoholics and drunk drivers is higher. Being an alcoholic is more likely because the people on the reservation are drinking away their problems. Drinking puts your brain in a “different universe”. Many people drink to escape to another universe. Sherman Alexie had very accurate behaviors in his book although, he had more alcoholics which led to drunk driving. Overall Sherman Alexie used behavior and reservation related statistics.