“Friend stopped, stood still, and braed himself.. see I’m no chicken” (Katz 221). Male maturation is a very complex sophisticated process. In “How Boys Become Men” Jon Katz takes on the challenge and head ache of analyzing this process. He explains how learning one of the central ethics of the gender is experiencing pain rather than showing fear and emotion. We do so by taken on challenges because we feel obligated to in front of our friends in order to not look cowardly.
How we demonstrate machismo and lack commitment, how we do whatever we can to fit into the society around us and are willing to do anything just to resemble coolness and absolutely no tolerability of getting pushed around. It called Guy Code, a set of ruthless, unspoken rules and every guy knows one, never show fear. Men are the worst when it comes to expressing any type of physical affection and a lot of it has to do with the way men are raised as children. Junior, the main character in The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, I believe does however, conform to the explanation outlined by Katz.
Since the beginning all Junior had talked about is how bad his life was. He talked about his extra teeth, his brain damage, his lopsided vision, his seizures, and how he was referred to on the rez as a retard. Therefore leading him to get beat up. Not once did Junior ever complain though. He took the beating and the name calling that was giving to him day by day by others on the rez, but never once told. He demonstrated the characteristic that Katz explained in the unyielding rules in “How Boys Become Men” Empathy is for nerds.
Even though Junior knows he is a bit different and most definitely out of the ordinary he still attempts to view himself as one of the others. He tries to fit in and see himself beyond being a nerd. “I felt like Roger had kicked me in the face. That was the most racist thing I’d ever heard in my life…so I punched roger in the face” (Alexie, 65) Even though Junior had no idea what he had done he had actually shown self-respect and courage. Juniors passed experience from living on the rez his whole and the way he had grown up this was natural for him.
He had been in hundreds of fights before since he was three years old that he lived by a set of rules that anything anyone else does or may do can result in a fight. Literally. This is one of Katz’s explanation of machismo and no tolerability of getting pushed around. Back at home Junior may have gotten the snot beat out of him but because of Juniors actions it was actually able to gain not only others respect but Rogers as well, the most feared popular white kid at school. This also goes back to Katz’s explanation ‘experience pain rather than show fear’.
Junior was willing to experience the pain rather than showing Rodger how frightful he really was. The one thing Junior didn’t want happening was being called a coward or becoming Rogers punching bag the rest of the year. Experience pain rather than show fear is the way Junior grew up. On the rez male Indians were supposed to be providers for the family and woman care givers. In Juniors case however, he wasn’t like most Indians. He was different, and he stuck out like a needle in a haystack. Experiencing pain wasn’t an option, it was more of a given in Juniors case. It was the fear, and the fear is what Junior did so good of holding back.
He was brave for a little guy and definitely had heart showing that machismo inside of everyman. “You stitch me up. I want to play tonight…Then I’ll look tougher” (Alexie, 147). This is a perfect example of not caring about the pain and simply focusing on the results and the thoughts of others. The way you want to be viewed in others eyes as a man and be cool. This is also a huge problem for most males though and can often deter ate a relationship, friendship, or social life over time. Emotions are what men are told to hold in at a young age. Don’t express fear, don’t express sadness, don’t cry, be tough, be brave, be a man!
When Junior approached Rowdy and told him that he was going to Reardan, Rowdy told him to shut up and laughed it off not wanting to believe his ears. As Junior kept on persisting “Rowdy’s eyes narrowed the way they do before he beats the crap out of someone” (Alexie, 49) and Rowdy did the only thing he knew what to do. He faced the problem the only way he knew how to and that was violence. The same way he had gotten treated by his old man. He clocked Junior in the face and ran away. Rowdy didn’t know how to express his feelings or show compassion for Juniors decision because he had never received that in his life.
Alexie, Sherman. The Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2007. Print. Katz, Jon A. “How Boys Become Men”. Ed Thomas Cooley. The Norton Sampler: Short Essays for Composition, 7th ed. New York: www. Norton & Company, 2010. (185-189) Print.