Third World America

Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Alexie Sherman is a children’s novel that  portrays the life of an American- Indian boy called Junior, and reveals the structural and social problems of an American Indian reservation. Although Alexie’s humor softens the harsh realities, the truth of the situation rings true to the reader. The poverty and social prejudice against the Indians is undeniable and leads to a cycle that the Indians cannot escape. Junior transfers schools because he is alcohol is the only route that the kids at his school are going down. He is the only one who is seeking to leave the reservation and faces prejudice from both his own people and the white world.  He is putting himself in the white world because he understands the reality that if he want to be successful this is the only way for him to do it.

Throughout the book, cartoons that Junior draws reveal profound realities of his situation.  One depicts how he imagines his parents to be if they had had the opportunity to pursue their dreams. It reveals the truth that because they were Indians they would never have access to the opportunities that white people have.  It shows his mom as a school teacher and his father as a jazz musician. This is contrasted to the description of how his father actually is… an alcoholic.

This book is a prime example of the 1/3 World View in which every country has a third world aspect to it. While it is easy to understand how people are dying of diarrheal disease in Third World Countries, it is easy to neglect the realities of poverty and disease and oppression in our country. According to Kilgore’s research that, “Infant mortality due to diarrhea (per 100 000 live births) averaged 12.8 and was found to be high for blacks (33.1) and for residents of the southern United States (18.5).”  While the rate of infant mortality is far lower in America than in developing countries, examination of where death by diarrhea disease occurs reveals where the structural and social defections lie in America.

Would you expect this home to be located in Arizona, USA in an American Indian reservation??



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