Firekeeper’s Daughter

Firekeeper’s Daughter

by

Angeline Boulley

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Firekeeper’s Daughter: Chapter 23 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Mom and GrandMary packed Uncle David’s things away in GrandMary’s basement after he died, so Daunis leaves Mom a note and heads over there. The house smells clean; Mom still has cleaners come twice a week so it’s ready for GrandMary to return home. As Daunis finds the “office” boxes, she remembers how GrandMary believed David would outgrow being gay, so she let Mom box David’s bedroom. If Daunis had died, would GrandMary act the same about Gramma Pearl’s ash baskets and the Jingle Dress regalia? It’s so complicated to love someone but dislike parts of them. David had a problem with alcohol and decided years ago that sobriety was for him. When he started acting weird, Daunis suspected he had relapsed. Mom never believed that. Still, there are no notebooks from the year he worked with the FBI.
GrandMary had very specific ideas of who her children (and grandchildren) should be, and she was happy to ignore and minimize the parts she didn’t like. This is uncomfortable for Daunis, as it forces her to accept that her grandmother, someone she loves, genuinely doesn’t like a huge, intrinsic part of who Daunis is. Deciding that it’s just “complicated” to love someone like GrandMary, though, is a pretty mature take on the situation—it leaves room for Daunis to come to a more nuanced understanding as she gathers more information.
Themes
Generational Trauma and Bigotry Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Daunis thinks of Uncle David and Heather all week. Granny June thinks Daunis has afternoon classes, but really, Daunis spends every afternoon foraging for mushrooms. On Friday, the fall leaves are distractingly beautiful, and Daunis isn’t looking forward to the first Supes game tonight. She returns to the spot on Duck Island where she found Heather’s body and remembers how Heather has, for years, been checked-out and vacant. It got worse once the Tribe started per-cap payments. Still, she was the only girl Daunis didn’t envy at the Daddy-Daughter Dance—Uncle David took Daunis, while Heather went with her mom’s current boyfriend. Auntie always told Daunis that girls need a man in their lives to tell them they have value. Did Heather hear something different?
In this passage, Daunis considers her own privilege. As she wonders if Heather didn’t hear that she was valuable from adults around her, it highlights that this isn’t something that all kids, male or female, get from caregivers. Indeed, simply given the contours of Heather’s story (that her dad took custody when he realized that would let him take Heather’s per-cap payments), it seems likely that Heather learned that her value was based on what she could do for others, not that she was valuable simply for existing.
Themes
Justice Theme Icon
Generational Trauma and Bigotry Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Daunis arrives at the hockey game during the first intermission, as the other anglerfish girlfriends skate onto the ice to toss T-shirts and souvenir pucks to fans. To Daunis’s surprise, the other girlfriends welcome her warmly, especially a girl whose name might be Megan. During the second period, Daunis studies Jamie’s skating: he was clearly a figure skater. Levi, like Dad, skates like a commanding hockey player. Daunis almost bursts with pride watching him, and she remembers how supportive he always was of her hockey career. Now, she realizes she’s helping the investigation for Levi and the Supes, in addition to Uncle David, Lily, the Tribe, the Sault, and the kids in Minnesota. Daunis’s good mood evaporates after the game when, in the bathroom, Megan shows off her new tattoo: a dream catcher on her lower belly to “honor[] Indians.”
Up to this point, Daunis has engaged with the Supes as a fan, as a hockey player from another team, and as a player’s family member. She clearly doesn’t think highly of the other girlfriends, as she sees them as pathetic and needy—and yet, their kindness surprises her. Still, her main focus is on the players, specifically on Levi. Watching Levi skate connects Daunis emotionally to Dad, and this in turn helps Daunis feel more connected to her entire community—blood and otherwise. However, Megan’s tattoo highlights that Daunis can’t escape bigotry and casual racism, even from people who are otherwise nice to her.
Themes
Generational Trauma and Bigotry Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Quotes
Daunis finds Ron in the lobby. As Mike’s parents wave them over, Daunis whispers that Mr. Edwards is a defense attorney and runs the Booster Bus for superfans—which has a waiting list, annual fees, and supposedly, an NDA. Mrs. Edwards, who bought GrandMary’s clothing store, introduces herself first, and then Daunis introduces Coach Bobby and Mr. Edwards to Ron. Mr. Edwards insists Daunis call him Grant now that she’s graduated, and she asks about the Booster Bus. Grant offers to let them try it out next weekend. As Grant drones on about the game, Jamie, Levi, Stormy, and then Mike join the group. Stormy’s parents aren’t here—they must be “on a bender”—so Daunis compliments his performance.
The fact that the Booster Bus exists at all speaks to how all-consuming hockey is in the Sault. And the possible NDA (non-disclosure agreement) tells Daunis that the superfans who participate in the Booster Bus may be using the group and the secrecy to cover up nefarious dealings, possibly with the meth cell. Daunis and readers are again reminded of how difficult Stormy has it. He doesn’t have consistently supportive parents at home due to what seems like his parents’ relationship to drugs or alcohol. But people like Daunis can help fill the gaps and make Stormy feel loved and supported.
Themes
Justice Theme Icon
Generational Trauma and Bigotry Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
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Then, Daunis turns to Mike. His parents host Sunday dinners for the team during hockey season, and she suspects there might be clues in Grant’s home office. She tells Mike he did a great job, but Grant casually says that Mike missed one. Quoting The Art of War, Daunis suggests it’s strategic to let a messenger live. Grant perks up at this (Daunis doesn’t mention she learned this particular tip from watching Mulan with Perry and Pauline). But Daunis asks Mike if he’d help her set up a new BlackBerry, and Grant suggests she come for the Sunday dinner and do it then. She should bring Jamie and Ron. Daunis agrees and wanders away to escape Grant’s disturbing gaze.
Though Daunis gets exactly what she wants in this passage (an invite to the Sunday dinner), Grant’s gaze suggests that not all is going to go well—indeed, his gaze seems predatory, or to at least bother Daunis. Part of what’s going on here is that Daunis is renavigating her relationships with people like Grant and even Mike, since she’s an adult now, she and Mike aren’t teammates, and Grant positions himself as a peer and not just her teammate’s dad. It remains to be seen how Daunis’s transition into adulthood will affect her relationships with the hockey crew.
Themes
Justice Theme Icon
Generational Trauma and Bigotry Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon