Firekeeper’s Daughter

Firekeeper’s Daughter

by

Angeline Boulley

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Firekeeper’s Daughter: Chapter 20 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Jamie is in Daunis’s driveway the next morning like no time has passed since their last run. He asks why Macy referred to Daunis as “Firekeeper’s daughter” at one point last night, and she explains that it’s a reference to the story of the original Firekeeper’s daughter. She’d start her day by singing and raising the sun into the sky, but it’s kind of annoying because her whole identity is based on her relationships to her dad, her husband, and then her sons. She has so much responsibility and no name of her own. As Daunis and Jamie begin their run, Daunis decides to start leaving Firekeeper’s Daughter out when she introduces herself to Creator each morning—she’s being hypocritical. She also decides to give Firekeeper’s daughter her own name, Zaagaasikwe.
Though Daunis generally finds comfort and solace in Ojibwe stories, this doesn’t mean she doesn’t think critically about those stories. As she engages more critically with the story of Firekeeper’s daughter, she begins to come of age and hold a more nuanced, mature view of how she’d like to interact with her culture. She is, after all, a Firekeeper’s daughter too—her dad’s last name was Firekeeper. But here, she decides that she doesn’t need to define herself by her relationship to her dad; she—and the Firekeeper’s daughter in the story—can both be their own people and still support their community.
Themes
Ceremony, Pride, and Healing Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Reaching Levi’s house, Daunis explains that Stormy lives here too because Stormy’s family is “messed up.” Dana, Levi’s mom, has been caring for Stormy for years now. As Levi and Stormy join Daunis and Jamie, Stormy heckles Daunis for her trust fund. Daunis knows that both she and Stormy feel weirdly about money; Dana has been depositing Levi’s per-cap check into a savings account for him, something Stormy’s mom Shawna doesn’t do. Shawna is instead known for the time she threw a huge, expensive party and then applied for emergency assistance to pay her bills.
Daunis makes the case that there are healthy, supportive, functional families in the Sault—and then there are families like Stormy’s, where kids must seek refuge elsewhere in order to get consistent support. So, while Daunis feels weird about money because it’s uncomfortable to know she’s better off than her peers, Stormy feels weird about money because he has almost no power to make financial choices for himself—and his mom’s choices have tended to hurt him, not help him.
Themes
Generational Trauma and Bigotry Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Mike joins the group, and the guys make fart jokes. Daunis ignores them and focuses on trying to keep up. Levi, however, tells the story of the time that he fell and hit his head, and Daunis sheltered him from the rain and accompanied him to the hospital. Privately, Daunis remembers that her relationship to Dana changed that day: Dana hugged her, and they both realized they loved Levi. The boys break into a sprint for the last quarter mile, leaving Daunis behind. When she finally catches up at the fitness center and collapses in the grass, Jamie runs over to kiss her on the cheek while Levi watches.
Levi’s story lets Jamie know how close Levi and Daunis are, and how protective Daunis has historically been of her little brother. Further, Levi’s injury allowed Daunis to overcome and move past some of the familial trauma she’s suffered (recall that Dad had married Dana by the time Mom got back to the Sault with baby Daunis, something that Daunis has framed as fairly traumatizing for all involved).
Themes
Justice Theme Icon
Generational Trauma and Bigotry Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Daunis walks to EverCare and then watches Mom rub lotion into GrandMary’s legs. She wonders silently if Mom is stronger than she looks—is it strength to love and care for people you don’t like, and to believe in people like Uncle David? Daunis kisses Mom, tells GrandMary that today’s her first day at Lake State, and heads home to get ready. But as Daunis finally reaches her first class, she can’t help thinking that Lily should be here—so when the teacher tells students to leave if they’re not interested, Daunis does. She goes to the student union in search of water, but she runs into TJ. He’s wearing a cologne that Daunis bought him, so she throws her macroeconomics textbook at him. Infuriatingly, he barely reacts.
Daunis is coming to a new understanding of her mom. In this new view, perhaps Mom is stronger than Daunis has given her credit for—and so, perhaps, Daunis doesn’t need to worry so much about caring for Mom. As Daunis begins college, her life seems to momentarily fall apart again as she confronts Lily’s absence and the fact that she’s more upset about the breakup with TJ than he is. Note that Daunis is upset in part because she has no idea why or how TJ is able to keep his cool—he just seems to not care. Not knowing heightens her own unease.
Themes
Love, Honesty, and Respect Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Quotes
Get the entire Firekeeper’s Daughter LitChart as a printable PDF.
Firekeeper’s Daughter PDF
Robin Bailey appears. Firmly, she picks up the textbook and steers Daunis into the student union, saying that Daunis has to get over TJ and not let guys have so much power over her. Robin is two years older than Daunis. She was the first girl to make the Sault’s team, and she and Daunis played together for two years. Now, Robin suggests that Daunis take two classes, whatever Lily was most excited about (American Literature) and whatever she’s most excited about (Plant Morphology). She gives Daunis her number, and they cross their arms like they used to cross their hockey sticks before games.
Even though Daunis felt unmoored in the last passage, now, her community seems to converge on her to put her back on track. With Robin’s pep talk and the hockey conventions (crossing their arms like they used to cross their hockey sticks), Daunis once again feels like she’s part of something bigger and has the strength to go on. It helps, too, that Daunis clearly admires Robin and how well it seems Robin is doing in college.
Themes
Family and Community Theme Icon
While Daunis is in line at the Elders’ lunch one day, Jonsy asks her about the trash bag they saw at the landfill. Daunis denies taking it. She offers to help Jonsy’s brother redeem an iTunes gift card and is there when announcements are read: the Youth Tribal Council will come on Thursday to help Elders set up cell phones, and Heather Nodin is missing. By Friday, Daunis is taking only two classes and spending her afternoons on Sugar Island with the Elders. She decides she can ask Elders about medicines while she helps them. She learns that bodies sometimes wash ashore on Sugar Island, that Leonard Manitou believes the “Little People” kept him safe when he got lost for days as a kid, and that mushrooms grow on Duck Island, near Sugar Island. Ron said David had been looking there.
Heather, recall, offered Daunis drugs at the bonfire several days ago—so her disappearance may be connected to the investigation, if not just generally concerning. As Daunis spends more time with the Elders, she expands her community and gains important insight that may genuinely help the investigation. This shows Daunis that she can indeed do things her way; she doesn’t have to help the investigation the way Ron initially asked her to (by experimenting with mushrooms and meth herself). However, it also seems ominous to learn that bodies sometimes wash ashore on Sugar Island, especially knowing already that David’s death was likely the result of foul play.
Themes
Justice Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon