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The absolutely true diary of a part-time indian: Fighting monsters
Ashley, Stephanie D.
Shumate, KathleenTurner, Katherine
Published in 2007, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, a young adult novel by Sherman Alexie, a Spokane Coeur d’Alene Indian, quickly gained notoriety. Many embraced the fictionalized accounting of Alexie’s childhood, but others pushed back and called for its censorship because they felt the traumas ATD’s protagonist, Arnold Spirit, faces are too troubling, even monstrous, for children to encounter. Alexie is not interested in trying to protect children from monsters by denying their existence and hiding any mention of the monstrous; instead, Alexie writes to provide children and readers with tools to fight their own monsters. Jeffrey James Cohen’s seven theses comprising Monster Theory provide a useful framework to understand the complexity of monsters and their relationship with society: where monsters come from, what monsters are, and the potential monsters hold for the betterment of communities. An understanding of Monster Theory allows readers to better understand the undercurrents of fear, anxiety and desire that drive Arnold’s experiences within Wellpinit and Reardan. Arnold is seen as a monster either for abandoning his community or entering a community where he does not belong. This thesis examines instances in ATD that support Cohen’s reading of monsters as well as the background of the fears and anxieties that motivated the creation of specific monsters that Arnold faces. Not only does Alexie show how tools such as art, reading, friendship, list-making, sports, and persistence serve as mighty weapons with which to fight monsters, Alexie also shows how a once deemed monster can become an integral member of society.
English and Comparative Literature
Arts and Letters
Master of Arts (M.A.) San Diego State University, 2017
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