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A Better Life consists of Leaving

In The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, one of the general struggles that is presented come from the two worlds of color colliding and creating clashes among the relationships. While being a minority can bring hardships, having the birth defects of something like hydrocephalus bring in more stigma to the character. Additionally, we can see the hardships that come from living in a reservation stem from poverty. Arnold’s sister runs away, his parents are or have been alcoholics and the education provided is mediocre. Meanwhile 22 miles down the road, there exists a “white school,” where students are getting the best education and are not in the midst of struggle like in the reservation. Places such as reservations have some benefits yet at the same time they are laced with the injustices and cause them to be centers of poverty.

The forgotten nooks and crannies of American are left to fend for their own. We have communities throughout the country left to live through their poverty and fear, not just reservations. Our communities just in LA alone are tainted with poverty and crime. A simple conversation with a South Los Angeles friend constantly speaks about his angst towards the LAPD, their efforts to protect are provided in the hard hit crime areas. While in West Los Angeles a simple noise complaint will have the police at your door in three minutes, a drunken teenager firing his gun to a crowd in South LA will have police showing up 20 minutes after, if they are lucky.  One of the intricate aspects of the novel and reality is that the turning point, and the end of the cycle of poverty was in having Arnold go to the rich white school. While these “plagued” cities and communities continue to foster the notions of crime, gang life, or alcoholism we also have the cases where families are sending their children away to what they consider will be a turn for a better life. “You can’t give up. You won’t give up. You threw that book in my face because somewhere inside, you refuse to give up.” Once a community refuses to give up, there is a chance for something greater even if in the community there exists only one individual ready to change the pace for his life.




3 responses to “A Better Life consists of Leaving

  1. The Cycle of Poverty is perpetuated not because people are lazy, but because the proper resources and opportunities do not exist, while injustices and marginalization prevail. Although my high school was considered to be one of the worst high schools in San Diego County, my high school had the AVID program which provided resources, tutoring, and resources which exposed me to college. I saw how my friends who decided not to be in AVID struggled, because of the lack of opportunities and the poorly trained teachers. It if were no for community based programs, I would still be back home probably working a part-time job, yet I was not willing to accept this since I had seen how at one point my dad was making 65$ paycheck every 1st and 15th. If AVID had not provided the resources the cycle of poverty within my family would have continued.

  2. While studying human rights and global health issues, it’s also important to remember that these issues – poverty, hunger, disease – exist right here in our own communities. As you mention, there are huge disparities in the quality of education between various schools. Los Angeles has some of the worst public schools in the nation, so many families move to Santa Monica so that they can send their kids to a better school. The average home in Santa Monica costs over $1 million dollars, which therefore acts as a buffer for who can and can’t attend Santa Monica High. What about the people that can’t afford to move to a better neighborhood? Better neighborhoods equal better schools, poor neighborhoods equal low quality education. Lack of education makes rising out of poverty nearly impossible. This is just one example of how poverty has been institutionalized right here in the United States.

  3. Rebecca W

    I think this was a great post because you related the book to problems in Los Angeles. While reading the novel, I felt kind of distant from the characters because I have never had an encounter with an Indian reservation and I don’t really know what life is like on one. This post helped me realize that the problems of poverty and the solution of escape are universal, and very much embedded in my own community as well.

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