Firekeeper’s Daughter

Firekeeper’s Daughter

by

Angeline Boulley

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Firekeeper’s Daughter: Chapter 21 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
On Saturday, Daunis drives to Sugar Island. She passes a billboard with Heather’s senior picture and the Tribal Police phone number on her way there. When Daunis steps out of the Jeep, she’s suddenly flooded with a memory of Dad carrying her to his favorite fishing spot. Pushing the memory away, she thinks of Jonsy and gets to work. She marks out a grid by tying yarn to trees at regular intervals and then begins collecting fungi in each square. Daunis hopes to find something that isn’t in Uncle David’s mushroom books or in an online database. She can almost hear David telling her what to do as she explores.
Sugar Island (and Duck Island) is Daunis’s home, and so it’s laden with memories of Daunis’s childhood. Now, Daunis is beginning to make Duck Island mean something slightly different as she continues Uncle David’s research on the island. She’s forging her own path as she systematically hunts for mushrooms, pulling in the wisdom of her Anishinaabe Elders and from Uncle David.
Themes
Family and Community Theme Icon
After a quick snack, Daunis begins a new section. She comes across a patch of pansies, one of Gramma Pearl’s favorite ingredients for medicine. Daunis has always loved them and got through her coming-of-age fast by imagining some nearby pansies were keeping her company. A raven darts by, and Daunis remembers Macy’s story from the bonfire. According to Gramma Pearl, Gaagaagi—the raven—never got his own gift from Creator because he was too busy causing trouble. But by watching the other animals use their gifts, Gaagaagi learned exactly what each animal could do and could then help them work together and solve their problems. His gift was problem-solving. Daunis asks the raven how he’ll help her, and then she smells it. Heather Nodin’s body is just beyond a nearby boulder.
Symbolically, this passage is hefty. The pansies connect Daunis to her community and to her medicinal knowledge, and the fact that they got her through her coming-of-age fast also ties them to her maturation. Gaagaagi’s story, meanwhile, is about a being finding their place in the world, much as Daunis is trying to do right now (helped along by pansies and by her Elders’ wisdom). Finding Heather’s body, then, suggests that growing up isn’t going to be easy or pleasant for Daunis. In fact, it’s going to be heartbreaking and traumatic.
Themes
Justice Theme Icon
Ceremony, Pride, and Healing Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon