Firekeeper’s Daughter

Firekeeper’s Daughter

by

Angeline Boulley

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GrandMary Character Analysis

GrandMary is Daunis’s grandmother on her Fontaine side. She recently suffered a stroke and now lives in the assisted living facility EverCare. Though Daunis loves GrandMary, she also has complicated feelings about her grandmother and her grandmother’s legacy. GrandMary is from one of the wealthiest and most powerful families in town, and she’s notorious for hating Native Americans. She doesn’t see Daunis as Native, however, and actively tried to keep Daunis from connecting with her Firekeeper side (including refusing to let Mom put Dad on Daunis’s birth certificate, making it much harder for Daunis to enroll in the Tribe). GrandMary also refused to acknowledge that Uncle David was gay and picked on Mom for Mom’s weight, though Mom successfully forbade GrandMary from ever saying anything untoward to Daunis about Daunis’s size. GrandMary ultimately dies while Daunis is unconscious in the hospital at Ann Arbor. Following her death, Daunis is able to make peace with the fact that GrandMary, despite her faults, loved her.

GrandMary Quotes in Firekeeper’s Daughter

The Firekeeper’s Daughter quotes below are all either spoken by GrandMary or refer to GrandMary. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Justice Theme Icon
).
Chapter 1  Quotes

My Zhaaganaash and Anishinaabe grandmothers could not have been more different. […] Their push and pull on me has been a tug-of-war my entire life.

When I was seven, I spent a weekend at Gramma Pearl’s tar-paper house on Sugar Island. I woke up crying with an earache […]. She had me pee in a cup, and poured it into my ear as I rested my head in her lap. Back home for Sunday dinner at GrandMary and Grandpa Lorenzo’s, I excitedly shared how smart my grandmother was. Gramma Pearl fixed my earache with my pee! GrandMary recoiled and, a heartbeat later, glared at my mother as if this was her fault. Something split inside me when I saw my mother’s embarrassment. I learned there were times when I was expected to be a Fontaine and other times when it was safe to be a Firekeeper.

Related Characters: Daunis Fontaine (speaker), Gramma Pearl, GrandMary, Mom, Grandpa Lorenzo, Dad
Page Number: 10-11
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 20 Quotes

Pausing in the doorway, I watch Mom massaging lotion on her mother’s toothpick legs. She exhausts herself looking after GrandMary, who wasn’t always kind to her.

What if it’s a strength to love and care for someone you don’t always like?

Mom was adamant that Uncle David hadn’t relapsed. I know now that he didn’t, but even if he had, she would have continued to love and support him.

What if my mother is actually a strong person disguised as someone fragile?

Related Characters: Daunis Fontaine (speaker), Mom, GrandMary, Uncle David, Dad
Page Number: 180
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 36 Quotes

I am overcome with deep gratitude as I sit here next to Auntie before the fire. Auntie has shown me how to be a strong Nish kwe—full of love, anger, humor, sorrow, and joy. Not as something perfect: She is a woman who is complex and sometimes exhausted, but mostly brave. She loves imperfect people fiercely.

Related Characters: Daunis Fontaine (speaker), Auntie Teddie, Mom, GrandMary, Levi Firekeeper
Page Number: 328
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Firekeeper’s Daughter LitChart as a printable PDF.
Firekeeper’s Daughter PDF

GrandMary Character Timeline in Firekeeper’s Daughter

The timeline below shows where the character GrandMary appears in Firekeeper’s Daughter. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1 
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
...long-term care facility. She greets the head nurse, Mrs. Bonasera, and heads for her grandmother, GrandMary’s, room. GrandMary had a stroke six weeks ago, and she’s been here since then. Daunis’s... (full context)
Generational Trauma and Bigotry Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Daunis applies lipstick to GrandMary’s lips and moments later, GrandMary seems to come back. Quickly, Daunis announces that she’s deferring... (full context)
Generational Trauma and Bigotry Theme Icon
Ceremony, Pride, and Healing Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
...into the window. Gramma Pearl, Daunis’s Anishinaabe nokomis, would say this is a bad sign; GrandMary would say it’s just chance. Daunis has been caught between these two worldviews her whole... (full context)
Ceremony, Pride, and Healing Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Daunis watches Mom lotion GrandMary’s legs. Mom is convinced that GrandMary will recover, and a week ago, Daunis overheard Mom... (full context)
Chapter 2 
Generational Trauma and Bigotry Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
On the drive, Daunis shares that she told Mom and GrandMary about her college decision. Granny June is incensed and says that “some boats are for... (full context)
Chapter 3
Generational Trauma and Bigotry Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
...leaves. Daunis watches Jamie lift Pauline up. He’s clearly had pairs figure skating training, like Daunis—GrandMary insisted on it, but she allowed Daunis to play hockey, too. (full context)
Chapter 4
Generational Trauma and Bigotry Theme Icon
Ceremony, Pride, and Healing Theme Icon
Love, Honesty, and Respect Theme Icon
...real party; Lily and Daunis were just going to celebrate Daunis’s Lake State decision at GrandMary’s empty house and help themselves to the liquor cabinet. But Daunis asked Levi to get... (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
Ceremony, Pride, and Healing Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
...local through and through—the Firekeepers are one of the oldest families on Sugar Island, while GrandMary’s people were some of the first French fur traders. Still, Daunis sometimes doesn’t feel like... (full context)
Chapter 6
Generational Trauma and Bigotry Theme Icon
Ceremony, Pride, and Healing Theme Icon
Love, Honesty, and Respect Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
...ask how to say “Scarface.” By now, they’ve reached the nursing home; Daunis explains that GrandMary is there. Jamie surprises Daunis by asking how she is, but Daunis isn’t ready to... (full context)
Love, Honesty, and Respect Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
...Jamie also did figure skating. Jamie is shocked Daunis identified this, but Daunis explains that GrandMary insisted that Daunis learn to figure skate. After their run, Jamie drops Daunis off at... (full context)
Generational Trauma and Bigotry Theme Icon
Love, Honesty, and Respect Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
...never think Daunis is “Native enough.” When they reach EverCare, Daunis invites Jamie to meet GrandMary. Inside, Jamie greets GrandMary in French, shocking Daunis. (full context)
Chapter 7
Justice Theme Icon
Generational Trauma and Bigotry Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Daunis wakes up on Saturday excited: the powwow is later, and she tells GrandMary about her and Lily’s plans to go to the campus bookstore to price textbooks. After... (full context)
Chapter 12
Justice Theme Icon
Love, Honesty, and Respect Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
...in Uncle David’s classroom, but she remembers how David didn’t show up for Easter dinner. GrandMary figured he’d relapsed; two weeks later, someone found his car. The toxicology report showed he’d... (full context)
Chapter 14
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
...running with Jamie and resents that fact. At EverCare, Mom is reading Jane Austen to GrandMary, as usual. Daunis never liked Jane Austen much; Lily always talked about books with the... (full context)
Chapter 20
Love, Honesty, and Respect 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... (full context)
Chapter 22
Justice Theme Icon
Ceremony, Pride, and Healing Theme Icon
...to “Work the problem” and think like a scientist. He always appreciated Daunis’s curiosity—once, when GrandMary told Daunis that curiosity killed the cat, he quipped that satisfaction “revived her.” Suddenly, Daunis... (full context)
Chapter 23
Generational Trauma and Bigotry Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Mom and GrandMary packed Uncle David’s things away in GrandMary’s basement after he died, so Daunis leaves Mom... (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
Generational Trauma and Bigotry Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter 24
Justice Theme Icon
Generational Trauma and Bigotry Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
...tells people to eat at the table, Daunis thinks it makes sense that she bought GrandMary’s clothing boutique. She remembers overhearing GrandMary saying once that Daunis was going to outgrow the... (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
...interested in everything she says. As Grant gives Daunis a long look while lamenting that GrandMary won’t be at Shagala, Daunis thinks he’s “kind of a gross pervert.” Mrs. Edwards says... (full context)
Chapter 30
Justice Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
...kids were stealing? Privately deciding that’s a dead-end, Daunis asks Mom how she felt about GrandMary selling Grandpa Lorenzo’s office furniture when she sold the shop. Mom is obviously still upset... (full context)
Generational Trauma and Bigotry Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
...He drinks a cup of coffee, smokes a cigarette, and then tells her about how GrandMary and her friends all tried to swindle Nish artisans, including his grandpa. Daunis doesn’t know... (full context)
Chapter 32
Justice Theme Icon
Generational Trauma and Bigotry Theme Icon
Ceremony, Pride, and Healing Theme Icon
...funeral takes place three days after her death. Daunis has seldom been to church since GrandMary said Native Catholics were like converted Catholics: lesser. She insisted Daunis was a Fontaine, not... (full context)
Chapter 33
Love, Honesty, and Respect Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
...Bobby (who’s always looking for investments), this investment will take off. Then, Levi asks if GrandMary is going to recover, and if Daunis plans to stick around or go to Michigan.... (full context)
Chapter 34
Family and Community Theme Icon
Daunis decides to read the notebook at EverCare, but she finds Mom sitting in GrandMary’s room next to an empty bed, crying. Mom says GrandMary is fine, she’s just overwhelmed.... (full context)
Chapter 42
Justice Theme Icon
Inside, Daunis discovers that Mom is sleeping at GrandMary’s house, seemingly to give Daunis and Jamie privacy. When Daunis is ready for bed, she... (full context)
Chapter 55
Family and Community Theme Icon
...Daunis wakes up foggy and can tell instantly that something is wrong. Mom says that GrandMary died this morning, but Daunis says she died after a party. Mom continues that Daunis... (full context)
Generational Trauma and Bigotry Theme Icon
Ceremony, Pride, and Healing Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
...that Auntie has been a great friend to Mom for Daunis’s entire life. Auntie followed GrandMary’s wishes regarding her funeral plans. Daunis also knows now that she and GrandMary love each... (full context)
Chapter 57
Justice Theme Icon
Ceremony, Pride, and Healing Theme Icon
Love, Honesty, and Respect Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
...Finally, she adds Dad’s choker, blueberry earrings from Mom, the strawberry bracelet from Jamie, and GrandMary’s red lipstick. Auntie attaches an eagle feather to Daunis’s head. Daunis joins Perry and Pauline... (full context)