Junior was born a retarded and physically different person. He is said to have ten more teeth than a normal person and had to have some removed, and unique un-proportional limbs. He was brought up in a small family and he had problems believing in his looks and his abilities. This meant that he remained in the house for most of his younger life because he thought that if he interacted with people, they would laugh and taunt him. His friend, Rowdy was one of the most important people in Junior’s life. Junior describes him as his closest friend that he termed as ‘inseparable’. While Junior came from a very poor family where the parents struggled to supply the crying wants of the children, Rowdy’s family faced abuses from their father, which kept Rowdy away from his own home, thus a frequent visitor to Junior’s home. This was how they grew to be the best friends ever. In the course of staying together, it is believed that they would develop the same character and perception. While Junior looked down upon himself, Rowdy was tough and did not give up and believed in getting what he wanted, no matter what it took. He, therefore, imparted many changes in perception and action to Junior.
Junior believed that he had abnormal features and that he was weak. He, therefore, opted to stay at home and would rarely attend public events. When Rowdy asks him to accompany him to a social function, Junior refuses and clearly explains his fears to his best friend. He was afraid that other people would look down upon him like he looked down upon himself. Being a hardened one, Rowdy rubbishes this point of view and tries to convince Junior to accompany him anyway. He promises him to protect him and even fight anyone who would try to taunt Junior. Junior is pleased and finally agrees to go. Rowdy in this case changed the reserved nature of Junior, and he successfully made Junior come out from his cocoon to face the world.
During the small tour, the two boys pick up a quarrel after Rowdy rams a vehicle with his forehead, and Junior laughs at his friend. They part ways and though Rowdy had promised to protect Junior, Junior is forced to roam on his own, during which he meets three men who taunt him about his big head. When Rowdy later learns about what happened when they were not together, he vows to revenge for Junior, which he eventually does. Though Junior was not happy at the thought of involving Rowdy in his revenge, the seed of revenge was deeply planted into him. He no longer forgave other people and would always look for revenge. After this incidence, Junior got the belief that nothing should go unpunished. He is so obsessed with revenge that he is always afraid whether other people would revenge against him if he did something wrong. He is, therefore, on the watch every time he wrongs someone.
Once Junior was very terrified and wondered whether another person would revenge against him, it was the case of Gordy. After arriving in the new school, Readarn, from his reservation, he taunts Junior and Junior in return gives him a hard hit on the head. After this, Junior expected that Gordy would reiterate physically, but on the contrary he just walked away, without a word. Junior could not believe that this could happen and was afraid that Gordy was plotting revenge. He even went ahead and discussed the issue with his grandmother to seek advice. When grandmother tells him that Gordy walked away because he respected him, he does not believe it and awaits a fight. After the long periods of time they spent with Rowdy, he had believed that everything that hurt was bound to have revenge. He was later astonished to discover that his grandmother was right.
Junior easily got enraged and was quick to physically react whenever he felt dissatisfaction. At first, he was afraid to go to the public as he thought that people would laugh at him due to his funny look. He did not have the courage to fight back physically as he thought that he was weak, but we later come to realize that he was a very strong person due to his perfect marking of Rowdy in a basketball match. During his basketball days, he still had the fear of the public, meaning that he had a natural fear that Rowdy eradicated quite significantly. He showed rage and physical reiteration, which he learnt from Rowdy. Rowdy had, on the other hand, got the behavior from his abusive father. Since that day that Rowdy turned against him with a punch after Rowdy had collided with a stopped car and Junior laughed at him, Junior developed the anger and a quick physical revenge. When he learnt that his reservation school could not afford new books and that the books they used had been used by their parents, he was so enraged that he flung the book towards a teacher and hit him so hard that he broke his nose. Another example is the time when Gordy made racially offensive comments about Junior. Junior gave him a very hard hit and even told him that it was not over and would be completed after school.
Junior was a reserved boy who feared to go out to face the world. He was soft and had little confidence in himself. On the other hand, Rowdy was full of bruises and did not fear anything. He was bold and daring and could get into anything. This bold character was later passed to Junior. By the time they reached their eighth grade, Junior had shaken off the reserved character and realized his potential such as playing basketball. They were among the best students in the sport and looked forward to the next level of education where they believed they would continue playing. Another instance that was very significant was the moment when were at an early age of only ten when they went to a Turtle Lake. They had seen a very beautiful pine tree, and Rowdy suggested that they climbed it. Junior was reluctant, but Rowdy convinced him to climb up. After climbing, they could clearly see every corner of their reservation. Rowdy had taught junior new ways of life, and he now looked forward to a new life and new adventure ahead. Basically, he provided him with hope and a bold character to surge forward in life. The story of reluctance and eventual acceptance to climb the beautiful pine tree, and eventually being able to see the whole reservation, signified the fear that Rowdy was trying to eliminate from Junior and the bold character that he was trying to develop in him. In other words, he wanted to show Junior that for him to progress in life and view it from all angles and dimensions, he had to take the bold steps and risks. Eventually, this was proved true as Junior emerged with very good grades from school as well as recognition among the best basketballers who ever schooled in Readearn.
Despite the mental strength that Rowdy portrayed about himself, he still had a soft point deep inside. He rarely showed it and would cry silently and away from the people. During Mary’s funeral, he hid and watched the service from far. Coincidentally, Junior ran away from the rest of the mourners and went to hide in a bush where Rowdy was. They were both grieved and mourned the loss, but Rowdy accused Junior of his sister’s death. He then ran away, something that Junior had never seen with Rowdy. Despite the hard character that Rowdy possessed, he still had a soft point which made him cry. Earlier on, when their teacher, Mr. P had come to tell Junior that he had forgiven him for breaking his nose, he listened to the teacher and his advice, which made him cry, then apologize. This meant that there was an emotional feeling that was left in a boy who hit a teacher with a book and broke his nose.
From all the incidences listed and explained above, Rowdy was a part of the development of Junior’s character. He was involved in all stages of Junior’s life. They were the best childhood friends but later fell apart. Towards the end of the story though, they reconcile and play basketball without their scores counting anymore. It was due to the involvement of Rowdy in Junior’s character that he contacted him every time despite the rude answers that he at times received. He always missed him since he had given him protection and guide when he was afraid to take a step in life. He had promised to fight anyone who would try to look down upon Junior. This provided Junior with a mettle that could not be broken. He targeted what he wanted and strived to get it. Anyone who came in between was not to be tolerated and would be shoved aside with physical assault being among the options that were available for the two young men. Rowdy was, therefore, among the most influential people in the life of Junior as portrayed in the book.