The Impact of Art in the Diary of a Part-Indian by Sherman Alexie by Amelia

The art in The Diary of a Part-Time Indian help convey Junior’s inner thoughts and feelings that you can’t always be described using words. The drawing style of the pictures also helps readers understand Junior’s perception of the people or situations that he’s drawing. Throughout the book, readers see all the different types of drawings Junior drew, and realize that all the different amounts of detail in the drawings relate to what he’s drawing. For example, when drawing Eugene, Junior put in a lot of detail, to symbolize how much he meant to him, and how much he’s been in his life that he can draw him in such detail.

Eugene, Junior’s dad’s best friend.

Drawings let viewers see into a person’s mind on how the artist truly sees things. You can try to describe something in words, but as they say a picture is worth a thousand words. Junior’s pictures along with their captions and notes show you parts of Junior’s life that he might not directly write about, but he does allude to them sometimes. The drawings show us a little bit of what Junior’s life looks like, and the situations he’s put in. We also see some of the main characters, which helps us create a movie in our heads of what’s happening. Personally, I’m very glad that there are drawings in the book, because I like having a clearer picture of what the scene looks like in my head.

Junior draws many different events that he experienced, and they all have different emotions behind them.

Junior when he had first come to all white Rearden high school.

For example, when Junior first started at Rearden, he drew what it felt like for him to walk in, and be the only Indian kid there. Also, it shows all the racism and bullying Junior dealt with. The drawing shows the anger, hatred and distrust that the white kids have towards him, and his fear of what they could do to him. This is a moment of fear for Junior, but he also draws many other emotions, like when he drew himself playing basketball.

Here Junior is confused, about who he is, and what he is perceived and accepted as in both communities. Because of his choice to go to Rearden and get a better education, in his home gym he is not accepted. In the Rearden gym, he is cheered on, but doesn’t fit in truly with any of his teammates. The illustration shows that he sees how other people see him, but he doesn’t really know how he seems himself, or who he really is.

Junior playing basketball on the gym for his reservation school, and Junior playing basketball in the all white Rearden school gym.

“I think the world is a series of broken dams and floods, and my cartoons are tiny lifeboats.” – Junior, page 6.

Junior’s life has been extremely harsh and difficult, so he uses his drawings as a way to save himself, to keep him from giving into the pain and giving up on everything. He uses them to help understand what’s happening, and process it. He hopes to use them as his ticket to a good life, to be successful and escape the reservation by being an artist. They are his hope, his chance to get away from the loss and hopelessness of the reservation. The art in the book really helps convey Junior’s personality, and gives us a better look inside his world.


3 thoughts on “The Impact of Art in the Diary of a Part-Indian by Sherman Alexie by Amelia

  1. Amelia,
    I really liked the way that you knew as a reader what other readers felt or thought helped understand the story. What picture do you think helped YOU understand the book better?


  2. Amelia,
    I really enjoyed your piece on Junior’s drawings. I found it very interesting on how you connected small details from the pictures to the thoughts going on inside Junior’s head. How do you think the book would have been different if there were no images? Do you think you’d enjoy it as much?


  3. Dear Amelia,

    I really like your outlook on the pictures and why they are there. When reading the book I liked the pictures because I’m not a big reader and the pictures helped me stay focused. I really liked you conclusion where you said “Junior’s life has been extremely harsh and difficult, so he uses his drawings as a way to save himself, to keep him from giving into the pain and giving up on everything.” I really hadn’t thought about it that way. I do have one question, would you recommend this book to a friend or family member?



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