Firekeeper’s Daughter

Firekeeper’s Daughter

by

Angeline Boulley

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Daunis’s mom became pregnant with Daunis when she was 16, and Daunis believes for much of the novel that her birth (and the fact that Dad married and had another baby, Levi, with Dana) ruined Mom’s life. Mom’s parents, GrandMary and Grandpa Lorenzo, were some of the most powerful people in town, and so they refused to let her put Dad on Daunis’s birth certificate and questioned many of Mom’s parenting decisions. Though Daunis has seen Mom stand up to her parents on Daunis’s behalf, Daunis nevertheless sees Mom as emotionally fragile and mentally unwell—since Mom’s brother David’s death, Mom has started cleaning the house late at night and talking to David in the made-up language the siblings created. Daunis finds Mom annoying and overbearing—Mom likes to do things like run baths and make tea for Daunis, but she tends to hover. It’s not until the end of the novel that Mom assures Daunis that Daunis didn’t ruin her life—Mom insists she made her own choices to get where she is. Mom seems to more easily come to terms with GrandMary’s death after making this realization, and she ultimately realizes that supporting Daunis in going away to college in Hawaii doesn’t mean she’ll lose her daughter forever.

Mom Quotes in Firekeeper’s Daughter

The Firekeeper’s Daughter quotes below are all either spoken by Mom or refer to Mom. 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:
Chapter 38 Quotes

Hockey brings my community together. Native and non-Native. All ages. All neighborhoods. Here in Chi Mukwa, a community recreation building funded by the Sugar Island Ojibwe Tribe, everyone stands united for our teams. I just hope they remember today was for Robin Bailey.

Related Characters: Daunis Fontaine (speaker), Robin Bailey, Levi Firekeeper, Mom, Mrs. Hammond
Page Number: 343
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Firekeeper’s Daughter LitChart as a printable PDF.
Firekeeper’s Daughter PDF

Mom Character Timeline in Firekeeper’s Daughter

The timeline below shows where the character Mom 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
...studies the photographs in the room, including the last one taken of the four Fontaines: Mom, GrandMary, Uncle David, and Daunis. It was taken at Daunis’s last hockey game. Soon after,... (full context)
Generational Trauma and Bigotry Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
...doesn’t seem right anymore after David’s death and GrandMary’s stroke. GrandMary seems to understand, and Mom embraces Daunis—Daunis staying home is what Mom has wanted all along. (full context)
Generational Trauma and Bigotry Theme Icon
Ceremony, Pride, and Healing Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
...how clever Gramma Pearl was at the next Fontaine Sunday dinner and saw how embarrassed Mom was. Sometimes it’s safe to be a Firekeeper, but other times, Daunis must be a... (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... (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... (full context)
Chapter 3
Justice Theme Icon
Generational Trauma and Bigotry Theme Icon
Love, Honesty, and Respect Theme Icon
...and that David is dead. Privately, Daunis is angry at David for how he died. Mom fainted when she heard the news and insisted that David had only ever drunk alcohol;... (full context)
Chapter 4
Justice Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Later that evening, Daunis borrows Mom’s car to drive Pauline and Perry to Auntie’s house on Sugar Island, where Daunis also... (full context)
Chapter 5
Love, Honesty, and Respect Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
...Daunis gestures wildly at the house’s features, but she stops briefly in front of her, Mom, and David’s framed senior portraits. Realizing the girl left the tour, Daunis tells Jamie to... (full context)
Chapter 7
Justice Theme Icon
Generational Trauma and Bigotry Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
...go to the campus bookstore to price textbooks. After the bookstore outing, Daunis brushes off Mom’s request that Daunis let her know if she and Lily make plans for after the... (full context)
Generational Trauma and Bigotry Theme Icon
Love, Honesty, and Respect Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
...another raunchy text from Lily, Jamie asks what happened to Daunis’s dad. Daunis explains that Mom was 16 when she got pregnant, and Dad was “a poor Nish from the rez... (full context)
Chapter 9
Love, Honesty, and Respect Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
...tonight. So, when Jamie and Daunis take the ferry to Sugar Island later, Daunis texts Mom and assures her that she’ll be safe at Auntie’s tonight. She then texts Lily, whom... (full context)
Generational Trauma and Bigotry Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
...gun like a machete before pointing it at Daunis. As Daunis thinks of how devastated Mom will be, Lily reaches for the gun—and the gun goes off. (full context)
Chapter 10
Justice Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
...didn’t tell him where Auntie lives, after all. He insists on taking Daunis home to Mom and promises to talk. In the truck, he confirms that he’s an undercover officer and... (full context)
Generational Trauma and Bigotry Theme Icon
Love, Honesty, and Respect Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
...Before they get to the door, Jamie tells Daunis to stay quiet—he’ll explain things later. Mom pulls Daunis and then Jamie into a hug when she opens the door, and Daunis... (full context)
Chapter 11
Ceremony, Pride, and Healing Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
As Mom gives Daunis a pill and water and helps her into bed, Daunis shivers. She remembers... (full context)
Generational Trauma and Bigotry Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
...insisting she had to buy her kids church clothes before she could come. Daunis is angry—Mom would be glued to the casket if Daunis were dead. Lily always referred to herself... (full context)
Chapter 12
Justice Theme Icon
Generational Trauma and Bigotry Theme Icon
Ceremony, Pride, and Healing Theme Icon
...knows about Jamie, who presently shows up with Ron. Ron is a bit older than Mom and clearly Native. He introduces himself as a senior agent with the FBI, and Jamie... (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
Love, Honesty, and Respect Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
...death triggered the undercover FBI operation. Daunis is shocked and ashamed; she doubted her uncle. Mom never did. She sobs. (full context)
Chapter 13
Justice Theme Icon
Generational Trauma and Bigotry Theme Icon
Love, Honesty, and Respect Theme Icon
...Her ceremonial fire will go out in this world and light in the next one. Mom and Auntie sit behind Daunis and Granny June. Mom has been hovering annoyingly since Lily’s... (full context)
Chapter 14
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
...morning. Everything feels normal—except she misses 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... (full context)
Chapter 18
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Daunis tells Mom she’s attending a geology seminar at Michigan Tech, and she tells Auntie she and Jamie... (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
Ceremony, Pride, and Healing Theme Icon
Love, Honesty, and Respect Theme Icon
...the hotel room, Daunis showers and gets out to discover Jamie ordered pizza. She contacts Mom and Auntie to let them know she’s okay and refuses to talk to Jamie about... (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... (full context)
Chapter 22
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
...boots and says she was working on a school project. Realizing she needs to call Mom and probably Jamie and Ron, Daunis says she has to call her boyfriend. (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Over the weekend, Daunis allows Mom to baby her. She texts Jamie to come over on Sunday, and before he arrives,... (full context)
Generational Trauma and Bigotry Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Once Jamie leaves, Daunis goes inside to deal with Mom, who’s crying. Both Daunis and Lily are (and were) good at reading people, but Lily... (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
Ceremony, Pride, and Healing Theme Icon
While Mom naps, Daunis can’t bring herself to finish Hocus Pocus on her own. She’s fidgety and... (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... (full context)
Chapter 24
Justice Theme Icon
Generational Trauma and Bigotry Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
...overhearing GrandMary saying once that Daunis was going to outgrow the sizes the boutique carried; Mom threatened to leave town if GrandMary ever said anything about Daunis’s body to Daunis. She... (full context)
Chapter 25
Love, Honesty, and Respect Theme Icon
...of Grant’s bookshelf and that she couldn’t access client files in the desk. In case Mom is watching (she is, the light turns on), Jamie walks Daunis to the door and... (full context)
Chapter 26
Justice Theme Icon
Ceremony, Pride, and Healing Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
...baby. Next, Daunis pulls out an application for tribal enrollment and a notarized letter from Mom stating that her parents wouldn’t let her put Dad on Daunis’s birth certificate. There’s a... (full context)
Chapter 29
Justice Theme Icon
Generational Trauma and Bigotry Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
...with excitement, so when Ron shushes her, Daunis says they need a secret language like Mom and Uncle David had. Suddenly, Daunis is certain that David did keep a journal of... (full context)
Chapter 30
Justice Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
...She stews angrily for a minute before going to the kitchen, following the smell of Mom’s warm cookies. Daunis asks if Uncle David kept his journals anywhere but his home office.... (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Mom and Daunis discuss that Uncle David spent most of his last weeks at school, but... (full context)
Chapter 31
Love, Honesty, and Respect Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
...People; she decides to ask him next time she sees him. Daunis becomes aware of Mom mopping outside her bedroom and talking to David in their secret language made up of... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Mom sobs about how she and Dad shouldn’t have gone to the island, and how he... (full context)
Chapter 34
Justice Theme Icon
Generational Trauma and Bigotry Theme Icon
...David left a notebook for her in his hidden drawer. She tells Mrs. H that Mom is still having a hard time, and she’d like to get some of David’s things... (full context)
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,... (full context)
Chapter 35
Justice Theme Icon
Generational Trauma and Bigotry Theme Icon
Ceremony, Pride, and Healing Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
...The last entry mentions that David went to see Light Bulb’s mom on Good Friday. Mom reported David missing two days later. Daunis sobs with grief. In the formal dining room,... (full context)
Chapter 38
Love, Honesty, and Respect Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Fortunately, Daunis notices Art, Auntie, Mom, Pauline, and Perry across the lobby—and Auntie is smiling. Warning Jamie to not mention her... (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... (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Mom isn’t back yet when Daunis gets home. Daunis decides to check the emailed bank statement... (full context)
Chapter 43
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
When Mom gets home, Daunis tries to hide the sound of her retching. But Mom offers Daunis... (full context)
Generational Trauma and Bigotry Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Mom runs Daunis a bath. Afterward, Daunis dresses in a sports bra that will hide the... (full context)
Chapter 45
Justice Theme Icon
Love, Honesty, and Respect Theme Icon
...doesn’t know. She flinches when Jamie tries to touch her and then says that soon, Mom and Auntie will contact Ron, and they’ll all discover that Daunis and Jamie are missing.... (full context)
Chapter 49
Justice Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
...asks why Levi lied about the scarf. Suddenly scared, Levi says that Dana told him Mom gave the scarf to Dad to remind Dana that Dad belonged with her. Levi didn’t... (full context)
Chapter 51
Justice Theme Icon
Generational Trauma and Bigotry Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
...“done” and Daunis will go to the middle of nowhere. If she cooks great meth, Mom will stay alive. Daunis knows they’ll keep threatening her loved ones as Coach pulls over... (full context)
Chapter 52
Justice Theme Icon
Generational Trauma and Bigotry Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
...because Seeney called and said Daunis was on the ferry with Levi and looked scared. Mom had reported Daunis missing, but nobody took it seriously. TJ approached Auntie and said that... (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
...sense why Auntie and Jamie look scared, because nothing hurts now. The sky is purple, Mom’s favorite color. Daunis dies. (full context)
Chapter 54
Family and Community Theme Icon
Daunis wakes up to beeps, buzzes, and pain. She can identify Mom’s voice, but she can’t stay awake long enough to respond. Finally, Daunis hears Mom ask... (full context)
Chapter 55
Family and Community Theme Icon
...she almost dies, 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... (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
Ceremony, Pride, and Healing Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Once Dr. Roulain is gone, Daunis prepares herself and then, remembering that Mom said Daunis doesn’t need to protect her feelings, begins telling Mom her secrets. She says... (full context)
Generational Trauma and Bigotry Theme Icon
Ceremony, Pride, and Healing Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
...cedar, sweetgrass, and tobacco. Daunis knows now 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... (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
Generational Trauma and Bigotry Theme Icon
Ron visits soon after Daunis moves to the regular hospital ward. Mom scolds him for putting Daunis in danger, and Auntie asks who his tribe is and... (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
Generational Trauma and Bigotry Theme Icon
Ceremony, Pride, and Healing Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
...land. Daunis is exhausted. She asks Ron to go and then leans against Auntie and Mom. After a minute, she tells Auntie that there will be a blanket party, and she’s... (full context)
Chapter 56
Love, Honesty, and Respect Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
...when Daunis gets out of the hospital tomorrow, she’ll move into a nearby apartment with Mom so she can more easily come to appointments. When Mom goes home, Daunis will stay... (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
...a velvet yoke beaded with yellow pansies. 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... (full context)
Generational Trauma and Bigotry Theme Icon
Ceremony, Pride, and Healing Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Daunis sees Mom smile. Mom knows now that letting Daunis go isn’t losing her. Daunis remembers Granny June... (full context)