Identity shows a person’s individuality. A person’s individuality can include how they dress, their beliefs, their personality traits, the way they speak, their culture, their education, etc. In The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie and in my own life, it is evident that when exploring identity, a character must leave and return to his/her roots before truly understanding him/herself. Arnold finds out who he is by leaving and later coming back to Rowdy.
In the last scene, before Arnold and Rowdy played their one-on-one basketball game, Arnold and Rowdy repair their lost friendship. It is then that Arnold thinks, “I would always love Rowdy. And I would always miss him too. ” (230) This quote shows how Arnold realizes that he is different from Rowdy. To begin, he has always valued his friendship with Rowdy and so he says that he “would always love Rowdy. ” Even when Arnold had a disagreement with Rowdy when heading to Reardan for a better education, he still thought of how Rowdy would defend him.
However, by the end of the book, Arnold realizes that he will have to “miss” Rowdy because their dreams make them too different from each other. Therefore, Arnold discovers that his life can still include Rowdy, who has been his friend since the beginning, however, he cannot rely on Rowdy to be with him always. By the end of the book, Arnold has returned to Rowdy as a stronger and independent person. Similarly, I found my true identity after leaving and returning to my family.
Growing up, I came from a home that was traditionally Chinese. We did not easily express our emotions, we were not allowed to date until after college, and being successful at school would ultimately bring honor to my family. Though these beliefs were deeply ingrained in everything I did, a rebellious side of me wanted to discover what it meant to be American as well. Why were the other families so expressive and communicative towards each other? What mattered beyond grades and doing well in school?
These questions led me to leave my family and head to college eight hours away. There, I met many people who did not come from Chinese families. I noticed that some students were not as disciplined at school because their families did not stress education or some students were a little overly expressive with their feelings, which caused drama among their peers. I began to miss my house where my parents had instilled values towards having a good education and protecting our family’s privacy.
When returning home, I was thankful for understanding my parent’s values and their intentions for my future. Arnold truly finds himself when he has accepted his origins and absorbed them into his perspective of himself. His reunion with Rowdy and the reservation show how he came full circle in finding himself. Even though Arnold wanted to both physically and emotionally remove himself from the reservation in order to pursue his dreams, he ultimately realizes that it is only when he acknowledges his heritage that he can move forward into adulthood.
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