Firekeeper’s Daughter

Firekeeper’s Daughter

by

Angeline Boulley

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Firekeeper’s Daughter: Chapter 8 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Jamie gets off of Daunis; firecrackers caused the sound. The boys who set them off laugh as Daunis discovers her knee is bloody. Jamie apologizes, says he panicked, and removes his shirt to clean Daunis’s knee. Daunis asks if he’s lived in dangerous neighborhoods and remembers Auntie commenting that Jamie’s scar wasn’t an accident. Soon after, Jamie and Daunis find Pauline, Perry, and Auntie in their Jingle Dress regalia, and Auntie compliments Jamie’s work cleaning up Daunis’s knee. Lily approaches in her Fancy Shawl regalia, but the call for dancers to line up means she can’t say something raunchy.
Daunis is gathering information that suggests not just that Jamie has moved around a lot, but that he’s also lived places where danger lurked around every corner. This is way outside of Daunis’s lived experience, as she feels safe and comfortable in the Sault and seemingly wasn’t going to react at all to the firecrackers. It seems to make Jamie appear more sympathetic to Daunis as well, as she seems to infer that he’s recovering from the traumatic experience of living in such neighborhoods.
Themes
Love, Honesty, and Respect Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Daunis leads Jamie to the bleachers for the Grand Entry, when veterans bring in different state, local, and tribal flags, and dancers enter the arena. She tells Jamie what a lee-lee is (a whoop to honor or celebrate someone) and then begins to describe the dancers. There are multiple categories, and each dancer wears regalia that signifies various things about her and her family. The Grand Entry is the whole; each individual dancer and her regalia are the individual parts of the whole. When Jamie asks why Daunis isn’t dancing, Daunis says she’s taking a yearlong break to grieve Uncle David. She doesn’t mind Jamie asking questions like this—and she silently reminds herself to not be “That Girl.”
Daunis wants Jamie to fully understand and appreciate what he’s seeing during the Grand Entry, so it’s not a problem or offensive to her to have to explain things for him. As she describes how a dancer’s regalia connects her both to the whole and to her past, she makes the case that the Sugar Island Ojibwe community isn’t just comprised of the living—ancestors also play a part. Daunis also highlights how specific cultural grieving rituals, like not dancing for a year, can provide her comfort and a way to move forward after Uncle David’s death.
Themes
Ceremony, Pride, and Healing Theme Icon
Love, Honesty, and Respect Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
After the Grand Entry, Lily and Granny June meet up with Daunis and Jamie; they’d like to sit together to watch Pauline and Perry dance in their competition later. The group discusses Shagala—the fancy dance the Sault Hockey Association puts on—and then Granny June asks Jamie if he’ll take care of Daunis. Daunis insists he’s a friend, not a boyfriend, but Jamie says he will. Granny June says that’s good, since “things end how they start.” She disappears.
Granny June seems like the sort to dispense somewhat cryptic (and not always serious) advice as she sees fit. But her warning that “things end how they start” is interesting, as it suggests that a relationship that begins with secrets or dishonesty of some sort will remain that way. On the other hand, things that begin honest are more likely to stay honest.
Themes
Love, Honesty, and Respect Theme Icon
Travis suddenly appears beside Lily. Daunis puts herself between them and notices how rough Travis looks: he’s already experiencing tooth decay, and there’s a coffee filter floating in his soda bottle. Lily asks Travis to go, and he begs for her to talk with an edge in his voice. Jamie attempts to gently intervene, but Travis insults Jamie and Daunis. Travis only leaves when Lily promises to find him later. Lily then leaves herself, brushing off Daunis’s attempt to hold her back and insisting that she can take care of herself. Jamie, to Daunis’s relief, doesn’t seem rattled. Daunis says Travis is a “Lost Boy” and is addicted to meth. Lily told Daunis not to tell anyone, but if Travis is drinking meth tea at a powwow, everyone will know soon enough. Daunis texts Lily, apologizing for grabbing her friend.
It’s clear from Travis’s behavior that his addiction struggles are getting worse. In addition to his obviously worsening health, his personality is also changing (Daunis has described him as having been happy-go-lucky and kind prior to getting involved with meth). In this passage, it’s worth noting that both Daunis and Travis are fighting to control Lily (though Daunis is trying to protect Lily, a noble goal). Seeing Travis’s behavior, Daunis decides that it’s not worth it anymore to try to keep secrets. This offers some hope that she might be able to get some support from Jamie and eventually, from the wider community as she tries to help Lily and get Travis help.
Themes
Justice Theme Icon
Generational Trauma and Bigotry Theme Icon
Love, Honesty, and Respect Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
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