On Alexie’s “Absolutely True” Account of Power in Today’s Society

Early in ‘The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian’, by Sherman Alexie, the narrator Junior comments that “I know my mother and father had their dreams when they were kids. They dreamed about being something other than poor, but they never got the chance to be anything because nobody paid attention to their dreams.” Shortly thereafter, he adds that “we reservation Indians don’t get to realize our dreams. We don’t get those chances. Or choices. We’re just poor. That’s all we are.”  Junior has an interesting story to tell, and his life has been deeply impacted by the difficult realities of life on the reservation. For those of you in my ‘Power and Society’ class Junior’s experiences speak in interesting ways to issues of power, such as the authority of the state, class and hierarchy, poverty, the politics of parenting, and the role of schools in adolescent lives.  Bearing in mind such issues, in this Blog post I want you to carefully respond to the common reading for Stockton freshman.  Your response may do one of two things (or both!), and should be at least two paragraphs long:  1)  Offer some commentary in the wake of the illustrator’s lecture at the Freshman Convocation (on Thursday the 29th ).  Tell us, what did Ellen Forney say that really touched a nerve with you?  What did you find interesting about her lecture, and what was invigorating about the entire Freshman Convocation event?  Why?  I’ll be curious to hear your thoughts about this talk!  2)  If you aren’t able to attend the lecture or would simply rather discuss the book, then I’d like you to do just that.  So, choose a particular moment in (or idea from) the novel and make some insightful connections between Alexie’s story and our course themes, or assigned readings.  To make these connections, you might quote from the book itself, and then discuss what Alexie seems to be saying and doing in your selected moment (relative to power and inequality), and why?  Also, what thoughts do YOU have about the subject – how do YOU respond to the power issue(s) raised in the novel based on your own knowledge or experience?

19 thoughts on “On Alexie’s “Absolutely True” Account of Power in Today’s Society

  1. A particular moment in True Diary of a Part-Time Indian was in chapter five which was titled “Hope Against Hope”. The chapter discusses how Mr. P, the geometry teacher, confessing to Junior about how badly he treated Indians when he was a young teacher. He also talks about Junior’s sister, Mary, and how her passion was writing and romance novels, although she never acted on pursuing the career due to a lack of hope. Alexie is conveying in this chapter the continuous harm and prejudice that Indians face today whether it is their alcohol substance problem, poverty, their race, or lack of education. We could link the problems the Indians face to the course readings dealing with Aristotle’s writings in “Politics”, where he discusses being deemed a worthy citizen. Indians in the book were considered to be “not worthy” or not capable of being a citizen due to their financial status and lack of education. We could also link this chapter in actual history, where the “whites” would force the indians to conform to their way of thinking, and to their own religion. According to Mr. P, “We were supposed to kill the Indian to save the culture” (Alexie 40). In other words, he was trying to end their culture for them to conform to the norms of the time.
    The inequality that Indians face disgust me. Even in a free country, they are forced to live in poverty and experience out-dated forms of education and living conditions. In the novel, the white people, according to Junior, are supposed to be “the enemy” to the people on the reservation. Whites are viewed as the more perfect, powerful, and more educated group in the novel, and some ways it’s true with white privilege. Their white privilege gives them more power to govern things, and gives them more opportunity to receive better education. Alexie, in my opinion, conveyed a very powerful message within a simple book. Systematic racism is definitely a real issue in our society, and Indians are often the forgotten part of the system. They are forced to live in horrible living conditions without an escape.

  2. At the freshman convocation today Ellen Forney talked a lot about her drawing styles and how she uses drawings to express how she feels, kind of like how Junior does in ‘The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian’. Ellen mostly discussed how she suffers from Bipolar disorder, which also lead to her depression. This is what really struck a nerve for me. Going through such terrible problems and then having to draw pictures or ideas out so that even she could understand what was going on in her head. I was touched and inspired by her words today because I went through something very similar in my past.
    In my freshman year of high school I was very quiet and very shy I had my few close friends in my friend group but I could feel them getting more distant everyday. I had thoughts that no one liked me and that people are judging me from afar. I drew little cartoons in my notebooks during class of faces and my emotions and how I was feeling that day.I was sad and alone and I wanted it to stop. Luckily as I got older and I started to become more extroverted and break out of my shell that I built up for myself. I started getting my friends back and doing better in school. I never had a bipolar disorder but I can say that I did go through a small depression and had anxiety problems, but over time and determination I broke free.

    • Ellen Forney had an amazing presentation about her book and past life. She used to be an excellent drawer as a young kid and as time went on, she grew better at this hobby. Surprisingly, this grew from just a mere hobby to her life and she was expressing her feelings and thoughts after awhile. Her talk was very inspiring and it definitely changed my views on things. The fact that she was going through such terrible problems and then having to draw pictures or ideas out so that she could understand what was going on in her head is incredible and truly remarkable. I was inspired by her words because of the fact that I went through a similar experience in my past.

      In my middle school years, I used to not have a lot of friends and because of this, I used to edit video game videos and I used to be praised for making such great videos. They were so great that I even made money of these videos. These videos were a way for me to escape from the realities of my world and express my views, opinions and ideas. This how I relate to her on a personal level and because of this, this is why I relate to her so well. This is why this presentation was so relatable and great for me. I hope we have more people like her in the future.

  3. My opinion on the freshman convocation is a very blunt and very harsh sounding. That it was a waste of time, money and energy. It seemed that this entire speech that Ellen Forney was directed to those who are in need help of finding their emotional coping mechanism and those who are uneducated to what a certain mental disorder is and how to approach it. She had some motivational ideas in her speech however it seemed to be directed to a very specific set of people. Furthermore, there was nothing she said or showed the audience that hit a nerve or spoke to me in any way, shape or form. Similarly, I found that she was giving us information that was, to my knowledge, to be common sense, with how comics work and the like. In conclusion the freshman convocation was nothing more than one big sensitivity seminar with some common sense facts put in, all in all making it, in my opinion a waste of money that could be used somewhere else and students time that could have been put towards other activities and work.
    The entirety of the book “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” written by Sherman Alexie, is nothing but one big example of a power issue in our society. We as a society give money to people that do not try to get jobs, yes I am aware this is not all people, and we do nothing about it, but there are these people, that were here long than the rest of us and what do they get, a small plot of land and the means to open a casino. When we should be figuring out a way to help them out as well. As Junior said and you stated in the question “But we reservation Indians don’t get to realize our dreams.” [13], which this all started because they were defending what they knew as theirs so the new comers thinking that they were better because they were more civilized pushed them out of what the Native Americans had, ending in their demise. Only recently have the Native Americans realized that the help that was promised is going to come so they have to fend for themselves in society. Which is what Junior in this novel does because he was tired on the same routine of a self-destructing cycle. It is a very clear view of how power can be so unbalanced and can never be used correctly for a long term. I personally love what the Native Americans can teach to everyone, their culture and love for everything. So the way that they are treated and ignored like they are slaves sickens me. I donate to a Native American school charity that is run by Native Americans. Yes, that is correct, a charity run by Native Americans to help fund their schools because they don’t get enough to teach their kids properly. It sickens me that these great people that we can learn so much from are being treated like dirt because their ancestors fought and lost for what was their right and what they believed in.

  4. The Freshman Convocation with Ellen Forney was different as she talked mostly about her comics and what they mean to her. Also, how comics are more than just comics to her. An interesting thing that occurred during the event was she described how comics are very complex in the way that they are created. She talks about when she made the comics for the novel it had to be in Junior’s perspective and she really had to put herself into his situations to create the comics. Also, another interesting topic she brought up is how she is bipolar and how she has gotten through her conditions is through drawing comics.
    A quote from the book that could be related to our course is, “Okay, so now you know that I’m a cartoonist. And I think I’m pretty good at it, too. But no matter how good I am, my cartoons will never take the place of food or money”. This quote is coming from Junior in the beginning of the novel as for Junior being an Indian is all he knows. Being poor is normal in the reservation and he knows not even his talents will compare to being wealthy. This quote relates back to our course as we discuss the hierarchy in the past. As the knights and king are at the top, religious figures in the middle, and then the peasants at the bottom. There is also rarely any movement in the hierarchy system. This concept relates back to Junior as he would be a peasant at the bottom and sees no hope in moving up even if he does have some sort of talent. My thoughts on the subject of power issues in the novel are I see where Junior is coming from especially on the reservation where no one seems to leave or become successful at all.

  5. Going into the freshman convocation, I expected just to hear all about the creation of “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” however, that wasn’t the case. What I got out of the convocation was, besides a background into the making of the story, a story to find balance in life despite the hardships that come with being human. I found it compelling that Ellen Forney revealed her diagnosis of bipolar disorder (she’s fourteen years stable also) because it was something that was part of her life. It helped me understand that in the book, Arnold was only telling the truth about himself as a person and about how his life works. Truth seemed to be a common theme in her speech as well as in the book. I am not an artist so also learning about her different writing styles used in the creation of Alexie’s book as well as Forney’s book made the convocation more interesting. While I couldn’t connect with anything based on her diagnosis, I was able to connect with the fact that she pushed through the struggle to find balance. Finding balance in life is something I want to improve in as a person and her speech was really uplifting and hopeful. All in all, the convocation was really interesting and I’m so excited to read her memoir!

  6. Ellen Farney’s presentation at the freshman convocation had a direct impact on me. She talked a lot about her struggles with bipolar disorder and the depression that came along with it. She had such an impact on me because I too have suffered from bipolar-like symptoms, and knew exactly what she was talking about when it came to depression and mood swings. I thought it was very inspiring to see how she sometimes used drawing as a coping mechanism. For example she told a story about her bursting into tears after a session with her psychiatrist, going to the bathroom, and drawing a self portrait of her in that moment. Quite honestly I forget the term she used, but for lack of a better phrase, Ellen said she has been in remission for 14 years. I gained much respect for her knowing this, and knowing almost first hand what she goes through.
    She briefly talked about prescription drugs saying that they help her and help other people. I find this to be a controversial subject because many people become addicted to these drugs and even overdose. On the other hand they are helpful and in many cases say people from their disorders. I just thought the subject was intriguing and was a bit surprised she brought it up. One thing I found interesting was when she said if she can go back in time and have her disorder cured, she would not do it. She said it makes her a part of who she is and what she has become. I found this noble in the sense that even though it is a negative part of her life, she still lives a positive life and can overcome it and move forward. She made a great point for anyone who is suffering from a mental health disorder and that is to find what helps you and to even share your story, because it can make take weight off of your shoulders and help you recover.

  7. Attending lectures used to be something I used to dread. In my feeble mind I questioned why on Earth would people voluntarily congregate in a room to listen to someone talk and talk and talk about a topic I’m not interested in? I found myself asking this today too. However, be it maturation or some other variable, I arrived at the conclusion: speakers are invited to speak, because they have a reason to speak. Forney’s lecture included the discussion of mental health and what comics and art meant to her, I took a liking to the mental health aspect of the lecture. A picture glossed over in the beginning of the presentation grabbed my attention and made me question what the illustrator is about. The picture was detailing a person laughing, the myriad of different stylized “HA”’s indicated laughing, but the person’s head being upside down indicated something darker. Forney was trying to express mania. I say trying, not to discredit Forney’s work, rather to emphasize how misunderstood bipolarity is. I like to imagine artists as children, in the sense children don’t know how to express exactly what they mean and use everything they know to try and form an understanding – perhaps Forney had wished that she was a child, at least things would make sense. I’d wager not too many people in the room were conscious of the fact bipolarity isn’t just randomly transitioning from happy to sad. There’s also the episode that includes intense euphoria, one that you are highly cautious of and feels like good normality; this false normality makes normality questionable and the lines between manic and normal become blurred. She went on to talk about the importance of mental health and I agree. Everyone, some more than others, is constantly in a state of anxiety; it’s the curse of existing – so why is everyone pretending that they’re okay?

  8. During the lecture, the speaker spoke about Juniors situation with money. Junior struggles to even get a ride to school or participate in activates because of his financial situation. Throughout the story he is faced with the problem when he goes out to a dinner knowing he has no money and has to ask someone to lend him money. He is faced with having to admit he’s poor. This reminds me of most of the people we’ve read about in class. Such as Plato, Aristotle, and Machiavelli. They all are mature figures in history. Junior finds himself facing the problem of being mature. He has to admit to others that he has financial problems, and most importantly admit it to himself. He finds that life is better after admitting it, and he can finally be him. Most of the excerpts we read have a meaning behind them, whether it is between justice, virtue of a man, or how to rule, it has a meaning. Much like the book, “Life of a part-time Indian” In this point of the book, the author Sherman Alexie, is teaching us to accept ourselves and not change for others.

  9. Since hearing the freshman convocation given by Ellen Forney, It has given me a new sense of what drawing can mean to an individual. Ellen Forney is illustrator for the book by Sherman Alexia, “A True Diary of a Part-Time Indian”, as well as the author and illustrator for her own work “Marbles”. During this lecture Forney described what it was like to create the pictures for each of the books, and how in order to do so it required stepping into the characters shoes. For “A True Diary”, she based a lot of the works off her personal experience with things which made the main character Junior become more alive. Since watching the convocation I found one point she mentioned to stand out to me more than any other. This being the idea that for some individuals drawing is a way to escape themselves and other issues. She addressed her book “Marbles” which is a picture memoir of her life as she battled bipolar depression. Hearing her discuss the way drawing offered a way to make sense of her illness and made it easier to cope was very interesting. She also discussed that she had used two different drawing styles throughout the book to capture more in picture how she was feeling. This allowed for you to understand completely what it meant to be in that place. The styles varied from a more detailed drawing to a more cartoonist image. With Forney describing it in such a way was a real eye opener for me considering it was a new way of viewing an idea. Looking back at the lecture given by Ellen I enjoyed that she was so open with her situation and accepted the reality it placed upon her. By her being at ease with it it made it easier for her to relate it back to both books at hand. I liked that considering it allowed for the insight of what was going on during the creation process. When discussing the freshman convocation as a whole I think that the whole concept was a valuable asset. It allowed the reader to get a different point of view then just reading the appointed novel. It was also a good tool to have to answer an question one may have had regarding the books. Overall this was a very nice experience and I am thankful for having the opportunity to attend.

  10. In The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie I found a very interesting quote from the main character, Junior, about his teacher Mr.P in chapter 4 called ‘Because Geometry Is Not a Country Somewhere Near France’ When junior explains that sometimes they have to send a student out to wake up Mr.P. (“But no matter how weird he looks, the absolutely weirdest thing about Mr. P is that sometimes he forgets to come to school. Let me repeat that: MR. P SOMETIMES FORGETS TO COME TO SCHOOL! Yep, we have to send a kid down to the teachers’ housing compound behind the school to wake Mr. P, who is always conking out in front of his TV. That’s right. Mr. P sometimes teaches class in his Pajamas.”) In most cases a student is taught to respect and treat teachers, professors, and faculty with the utmost respect and have a view of them to look professional and act like they are in power and give out work but, with Mr.P he is going against what is the normal view, he doesn’t give the student’s a lot of work and doesn’t ask much of them which goes against him having power in just bossing them around like a monarch would, like a lot of teachers would when they aren’t prepared or just don’t care. Instead of asserting his power on those days he treats the students the way he would want to be treated when he comes in tired and in his pajamas. Because he isn’t abusing his power in these times it shows him as a fair teacher and if he wasn’t fair to these native American children he would look more like a white supremacy in the room.
    In the topic of power and inequality I see Mr.P as being as equal as he can be when it comes to him and his students and he doesn’t abuse his power over his class making them do things when he isn’t even ready to. These two issues I have seen over and over again by teachers in my old high school and middle school who would use kids to do their job and even if they weren’t in the mood to do something they would still make the children do mass amounts of work and that pisses me off. To have power you should also have respect for those you have power over so they have that same level of respect for you. You are never just given respect or “deserve respect” as one of my high school teachers said, you earn respect by giving respect. For those people out there that decide that they aren’t going to respect a child for whatever reason, heritage color excreta, but expect respect out of that child needs to be punched in the face to show them that they don’t have the power or right to be that way. My bottom line is that having power should also come with respect but to have respect means to give it so you must be equal to everyone and respect everyone you want to respect you.

  11. The convocation began with Ellen Forney discussing ‘The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian”, and how she came to be part of the project. I found it interesting how, in order to properly illustrate ‘The Absolutely True Diary’, she had to figuratively put herself in the shoes of Junior. She said this in particular was challenging for her, because her and Junior’s lives are pretty much polar opposites. It was nice how she took time to explain to the audience the power of comics and drawing. She used a visual to convey this, displaying two different sketches on a slide of her powerpoint presentation. One was a sketch of a man who had a very excited expression on his face. She explained that from this sketch alone, we have no idea why he is excited. The other was simply of a piece of paper with an ‘A’ written on it. She explained that we do not know the context of the piece of paper. These two sketches had something in common: they were both ineffective at conveying a message. She then displayed a third sketch, which combined the two prior sketches. The third sketch seemed to have more of an impact when conveying a message. It was of the same man with the same excited facial expression, holding the paper with the ‘A’ on it. From this, we knew that the man was excited because he had gotten an ‘A’ on a test. I found this example to be very effective, as it really clarified things for me and helped me understand her point thoroughly.

    Part of her presentation that I was not expecting was when she discussed her bipolar disorder. This part really hit home, because I am close with someone who is living with bipolar disorder. Forney discussed her other book ‘Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me: A Graphic Memoir’, which was basically inspired by her mania and depression. She shared that drawing was a sort of coping mechanism for her. The part I found most interesting was when a student from the audience asked Forney if her Bipolar disorder helped her in the long run, since it is what inspired her to publish her own illustrated memoir. She pondered this for a few moments, and it almost seemed like she had some sort of epiphany on the stage. Overall, this portion of the convocation was what really touched a nerve with me. I felt that she was brave for sharing her journey with mood disorders with the audience. Forney said that mental illness was so common, that it was likely for each of us to either have encountered someone with mental illness, or have a mental illness ourselves. I empathized with Forney when she talked about her struggle with finding a prescription medication that worked for her and her bipolar disorder, because as stated previously, I know someone with bipolar disorder who went through quite an ordeal to find a medication that actually worked. The side effects of these medications can be extremely taxing on ones life.

    I appreciated Ellen Forney coming to Stockton and speaking to us about her illustrations, and sharing her story of mental illness with us. However, I felt like Forney had a difficult time properly articulating herself throughout the convocation, especially during the ‘Question and Answer’ portion. There were many long pauses of silence, which made the entire thing a bit difficult to stay interested in. Overall, I still enjoyed the opportunity of attending.

  12. At the Freshman Convocation, Ellen Forney touched me, particularly when she informed the audience she was suffering from bipolar disorder. She told the audience, “I was winding down a low point in my addict phase. The depression medication started wearing off, and I went into a deep writer’s block.” Her struggle with the disorder was incredibly moving. One of my closest friends suffered from bipolar disorder; which made it tough for him to live happily since his mood changes were completely random. Despite these criticisms; Ellen Forney found ways to remain happy through her cartoons. She displayed her feelings through each of her illustrations. Ellen Forney showed her fans the significance of finding alternative ways to fight through hard times in life. Thus, she created her first book called, “Marbles.” Ellen Forney notified the public that her reason for publishing “Marbles,” was to teach the world that nothing can hold you back from accomplishing your goal.

    To be able to understand Ellen Forney, one must figure out what drives her to draw. She told her fans that Allison Bechtel and Michael Duggan are two famous artists that inspired her to create illustrations for the public to view. An unusual aspect of her lecture was that she taught the audience the particular language in comics. For example, she revealed that comics have specific properties that allow the artist to display ideas that can’t be expressed in any other way. The Freshman Convocation as a whole was a remarkably welcoming event. Everyone that attended the convocation was allowed to ask Ellen Forney questions regarding her disorder or about the books she had published. Furthermore, all attendees are allotted permission to meet her and receive an autograph in their books.

  13. Ellen Forney presented her ideas and incentives in a poetic yet emotionally appealing way at the convocation earlier today. She made many statements that were genuine and gut-wrenching to the audience; what she said certainly changed my perspective on ‘The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.’ Upon explaining all of the illustrations incorporated into the story, Ellen got onto the topic of mental illness, and how becoming a cartoonist helped her out of her deep depression and bipolar disorder. This was chilling in the sense that she was pouring out her raw emotion to a group of people she did not know a single thing about; she clearly overcame a severe hardship, and is confident in being stable due to her career in cartooning. Art, and more specifically drawing cartoons, is an outlet for Ellen. I can relate to this in the sense that music is my greatest escape, and it has helped me through countless amounts of hardships.
    Overcoming adversary is not easy, and often times there are people that could quite possibly have a passion for something that is yet to be discovered. Ellen’s ways of coping ‘touched several nerves’ with me simply because to a certain degree, I have been through situations where music is seemingly the only thing that can help/heal my soul. The convocation was a refreshing experience because the group was greeted very pleasantly by the President of the university, and then entertained by an emotionally appealing speech delivered by the inspirational Ellen Forney. This convocation was certainly eye-opening, and I am glad to have been a part of it.

  14. Ellen Forney is the illustrator of Sherman Alexie’s “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian.” She also is the illustrator and author of her own book, “Marbles.” When I attended her lecture, she was explaining what it means to be an illustrator and how important drawings are to convey the whole story. She starts off by explaining the difference between pictures and words. Words are great but to some readers the words in a novel aren’t enough to help the reader picture the right setting or object of focus in their mind. However, a picture can show everyone what the writer is trying to convey with a more detailed description. Forney also stated that just pictures aren’t sufficient enough for a piece of work. An illustrator can draw the picture but the reader can still be confused because they don’t know what’s going on. Adding words to describe the picture can help the reader better understand the work. I find this explanation very interesting. I never understood what it really meant to be an illustrator. Her explanations show that illustrations are just as important as writings. I find this Freshman Convocation event very important. I saw many students enlightened by Forney’s lecture. As a presentation, she spoke fluently and maturely and displayed examples of drawings to help us better understand the lecture and the point that she was trying to make. She was also optimistic and enthusiastic. She was a great presenter and found the event to be enjoyable.

  15. During the convocation one thing did strike me with the illustrator. She has had a lot of mental health issues during her life. It strikes me hard because looking back at it I know a lot of people who have been affected by some sort of mental health issue one way or another. I can personally relate to that to because I too have been dealing with a lot of what I would consider a depression. I have been dealing with it for a long time now, and its been a tough battle. Knowing that someone might have felt the way I have felt at times, is strange. Like she said during her pre station of her own book and Alexie’s book, “you often feel alone like your the only one.” and that couldn’t be more real and true to me as a person who struggled with these kinds of things. You expect everyone around you to judge everything that you do but in reality if you were just to open up to some people and talk about it, you would feel a lot better about yourself and what others perceive you.

  16. At the Freshman Convocations Ellen Forney opened up by reading a quote from page five of “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian”. The quote in a way revolves around power and the need for it. Junior uses art as a way to talk to the outside world, he wants to be noticed, he wants to become famous, and he wants the world to know who he is. Many people who have held positions of power have a power complex. They crave power like it’s a drug; there will never be enough of it to fill their need. Junior isn’t like power hungry dictators but he does crave something. He wants to be free, off the rez but there isn’t an easy way to do this. He has to go through many tough obstacles but his perseverance keeps him going.

    At the Convocation Ellen talked mostly about her drawing styles. I found this really interesting because I am not much of an art person so getting this insight was a whole new experience for me. When I red the book I liked the drawings but I never appreciated how much time and thought went into each one. She metaphorically got inside the body of Junior to be able to draw these sketches. Going back and looking through the sketches I can now she what she is talking about from the basic ones done in a hurry to the long drawn out ones with every detail done perfectly. During the presentation she pointed out the sketch of Junior’s grandmother as one that she wanted to show in great detail. That one is good but on the next page is one of the most detailed drawings in the whole book, it is Eugene on his motorcycle and you can tell that this is a special one. Ellen Forney is a great artist who is really dedicated to her craft and it shows.

  17. During Ellen Fornley’s Lecture during the freshman convocation, I was really moved by how open she was about how she stated her love for drawing comics was used as a coping mechanism during her struggles with bipolar depression. Within the coping precess she discussed many styles of art when drawing her cartoons in her comics. For The Absolutely True Diary Of A Part Time Indian, She wanted to envision herself as Junior and in way became one with the character. This was interesting to me because although i do not know much about Art, and what it entails, it goes to show that it takes great lengths to reach your passion. During Fornleys struggles with depression she was able to use her drawing as a source of relief because as she quoted the novel she stated that drawing is way to reach people from all walks of life and those people will receive your messages. Ellen Fornley is a symbol of hope in the way that you can overcome and obstacles you encounter if you find a true passion. While hers is Comics many others do not find their passion because they do not know where to look, she truly was a delight to listen to.

  18. On Thursday the 29th, Ellen Forney, illustrator of ‘The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian’ and author of ‘Marbles’, discussed topics such as drawing styles in correlation to mental illness, specifically bipolar disorder which she suffers from. Through Junior, the main character of ‘The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian’, Forney was able to illustrate a variation of comics that not only reflected Junior’s experiences, but she externalized her personal instability into the work. For example, Junior exaggerates his insecurities into his self-portraits such as his large, disproportionate size skull. Forney mentioned how feelings of shame emerged after being diagnosed with a mood disorder and depicting her struggles in the drawings of the book through Junior’s reality helped Forney to find balance within herself.
    Forney explained to us that letting go of the tortured artist persona was necessary in order to accept her illness while healthily expressing herself. What I particularly found most intriguing was how her mood directly affected her drawing styles. During her periods of mania, an abnormally high energy level associated with bipolar disorder, Forney illustrated loopy and scattered style drawings. On the other hand, during her stages of deep depression, more dismal type creations were made to reflect this mood. I found this freshman convocation to be enlightening, especially due to my lack of knowledge of the arts. Forney presented herself as timid yet empowering and the emotional connections she made with the audience was highly palpable.

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