Firekeeper’s Daughter

Firekeeper’s Daughter

by

Angeline Boulley

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Firekeeper’s Daughter: Chapter 39 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Dr. Bonasera reminds Daunis that after her surgery complications from last summer, she risks nerve damage every time she hurts her shoulder. For readers, Daunis explains that the summer before her senior year, Auntie (who’s legally able to make medical decisions for Daunis) secretly took Daunis to Ann Arbor for a surgery intended to fix her shoulder instability. She wanted to be able to play on the varsity team and play in college—but that’s not what happened. Back in the present, Jamie looks at Daunis almost angrily and asks why she played at all. She says her team lost because her sub was so awful.
The fact that Auntie was willing to seemingly go behind Mom’s back to get Daunis this surgery speaks to how close and supportive of each other she and Daunis are. She’s historically gone out of her way to support Daunis’s dreams, which helps to explain some of why Daunis has been so conflicted about deceiving Auntie in the present. But it also shows that Daunis is no stranger to deceiving loved ones to achieve her end goal, which is also what she’s doing by serving as the FBI’s CI.
Themes
Justice Theme Icon
Love, Honesty, and Respect Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
When they’re done at the emergency room, Daunis insists on getting cheeseburgers and a strawberry shake from the drive-in. Then, she instructs Jamie to drive down a trail in the woods, which ends at a clearing with a view of Sugar Island across the river. They kiss, eat, and watch the freighters make Kelvin wakes (V-shaped waves) on the river. As they kiss, Jamie asks if he can touch Daunis’s hair. TJ used to do that, and Daunis hasn’t been ready to let anyone, let alone someone just acting, touch her like that. But Jamie is being genuine now, so they kiss and lie down together.
Daunis takes it as a sign that Jamie genuinely cares about her experiences and emotional wellbeing when he asks to touch her hair. So, even though she knows that their relationship is in some ways an act, she can also tell that it’s more than that. That their relationship begins to deepen in this way in this particular place, with a view of Sugar Island, highlights that it is in part Daunis’s connection to her Ojibwe community that makes her so interesting to Jamie.
Themes
Justice Theme Icon
Love, Honesty, and Respect Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Snuggled together, Jamie asks why Daunis played tonight when she knew she was risking nerve damage. Daunis answers truthfully: she feels close to Dad when she plays, and she couldn’t resist the opportunity to imagine Dad cheering for her. Then, she says she’d like to have sex with Jamie. He’d like the same, but he notes that they don’t know how this is going to end. Daunis says she’d like to just focus on them tonight. Jamie agrees. They fetch the condoms Lily kept in the Jeep’s glove box, and the sex is perfect until Jamie says he loves Daunis. Daunis scrambles out of the blankets, dresses, and stays bent over, trying not to cry.
This passage helps explain why Daunis wants Dad’s scarf so badly: she can’t (or shouldn’t) play hockey anymore, and she feels that having his scarf would give her the connection to her dad that she craves and struggles to recreate these days. Recall that TJ would tell Daunis he loved her during sex—and that she’s found Jamie doing anything that TJ used to do (even innocently, without intention to harm) extremely triggering. Even if Jamie is being entirely truthful here, Daunis’s past experiences keep her from reacting in a way that would allow her and Jamie to move through this difficult moment.
Themes
Love, Honesty, and Respect Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Jamie, confused, confirms that saying he loves Daunis ruined everything. Daunis says she knows about “Guy Lies,” and everyone, especially Jamie, has lied to her. She remembers fishing with Dad and shares the memory with Jamie: the last thing Dad ever said to her is that he was going away and when he came back, they’d have such a good life together. Love, Daunis says, is a promise—and it’s an awful lie when a person doesn’t keep their promises.
Note here that while Daunis blames Dad for not coming back, there’s been no indication thus far that Dad’s death was anything but an accident. Still, the trauma Daunis experienced after her dad’s death and broken promise is real and continues to affect her. When it comes to Jamie, with whom her relationship is something of a lie due to the investigation, it makes things increasingly complex.
Themes
Justice Theme Icon
Love, Honesty, and Respect Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
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