‘AO2: Telling Rowdy’ by Zarah Kazmi


This extract has been taken from “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian” by Sherman Alexie. It is a short fiction story containing dialogues between two friends, who are soon to become two enemies. The main theme of the extract is “friendship”, with other sub-themes such as hope, betrayal, and love. The two most imperative purposes of the passage were firstly to entertain the audience which consists of young children and those interested in fiction, and secondly to draw attention to the hard life of the native American-Indians. Due to his hard life, Junior has no choice but to leave and go to Reardons which is considered as betrayal by his long-time best friend, Rowdy.

The tone of the passage is informal, somewhat casual and also sad. By the usage of words like ‘stupid’ and ‘wuss’, the content becomes highly informal, which shows how open the two friends were with each other. Elements of sadness and distress are shown by the usage of phrases/words like, ‘pain, pure pain’, ‘scared’, ‘crying’, etc. such language makes the audience feel for Junior who was devastated on being separated from his best friend who in return was shocked as well. This kind of language also leads us to the negativity being portrayed in the passage.

The story is conveyed in 1st person point of view which is Junior’s point of view as ‘I’ is used right in the start of the passage. This shows that author wanted the audience to know Junior’s feelings of separation and hardship. A smooth conversation is carried out throughout the passage containing harsh words which describes the emotions of the characters. Italics are used in places such as, ‘magnificent’, ‘everything’, ‘only’, etc., to show what Junior was going through. With the usage of italics, Junior describes his feelings towards the students at Reardons by repeating the same phrase again and again, “they were beautiful, smart, epic, and filled with hope”. This shows his desperation and also leads us to one of the sub themes, ‘hope’, which Junior describes as a “mythical creature”. This is where we get to know the hardships of Native American Indians who were so desperate but could not rely on anything but hope.

Figures of speech including similes such as “as serious as tumor”, “nose bled like firework”, and metaphors like “heart broke into 14 pieces”, show rather than tell the audience about the intensity of Junior’s situation and his friendship with Rowdy (14 years). Onomatopoeia is also used (‘bang!’), which depicts the sound when Rowdy hit Junior. The sentence structure consists of simple sentences (“they knew everything”) and compound sentences (“I don’t know but I do know…”) which shows the variation in the style of writing. A visual of either Junior or Rowdy is also provided.

Punctuation contained ellipses, “I’m doing it … I’m going to Reardon”, which depicts the Junior’s assertive tone. It also develops emphasis and suspense. Effective exclamation marks also add emphasis to the situation (‘bang!’). A reference is also made to the book “A tale of two cities” in the 1st paragraph to compare the two different lives of Indians and students of Reardon. When Junior describes their qualities by saying “they are beautiful, smart, epic and filled with hope”, he is also showing his desperation. His desperation is once again shown when he says “I’m going to die if I don’t leave”.

The feelings of both the characters contradict one another. Junior is helpless and devastated while Rowdy is extremely angry and flustered. He is the kind of person who tries very hard to hide his feelings by ‘screaming’, ‘punching’ his brother like friend. Emotions of both of them are shortened in one phrase, “pain, pure pain”. The author has cleverly used all these elements to tell us the feelings, the emotions one goes through when they are being separated from their loved ones. Separation is that one element that made two best friends, two worst enemies.

About froebelianwriters

I am an English Language teacher teaching O'Levels Edexcel and CIE A Levels at Froebel's International School, Islamabad. I am also working as a Subject Specialist Literacy consultant for the same school. Writing and reading has always been a passion and I try my utmost to instill these habits and hobbies in my students as well. I can be reached/contacted at fabbas227@hotmail.com or 03365287335 Happy reading!

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