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In the Novel poverty is a major attribute of Junior's life. The first time it rears its ugly head is when Junior's dog Oscar gets sick and they can not afford a vet so they have to shoot him.
When Junior starts his first day of high school he realizes how poor his school really is when he finds his mother's name in his textbook causing him to hit his teacher with it in a fit of rage. The incident resulting in a suspension.
While on suspension the teacher Junior hit tells him that because of the poor education system on the reservation he has to leave the reservation if he wants to have any hope of a better life.
Because Junior lives over 20 miles from his new school and since his parents often dont have gas money Junior has to walk and hitch hike to school.
After a school dance where he wears a super old suit and has to borrow money for food Junior's "girlfriend" finally connects the dots and confronts him by asking him whether he is poor an he reluctantly confirms her suspicions.
At the rematch Basketball Game between his new and old school Junior, after looking into the crowd and seeing the parents of the players for the old school ans sees drunks, abusers addicts, and even a drug dealer he realizes that his new school is not the underdog, his old school is because of their disastrous home lives because of the socioeconomic status.
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