Daunis’s changing relationship to her dad’s green scarf, and the information she learns about its origins, symbolize her coming-of-age journey and her growing comfort with accepting shades of gray. Early on in the novel, Daunis shares with readers that she has fond memories of Dad skating with her and her brother Levi, pulling them around on the ice with his jade-green scarf. In Daunis’s understanding, the scarf is a purely positive symbol she associates with her dad and her childhood innocence.
Because of this, it’s difficult for Daunis to cope with the fact that while Levi is pretty sure the scarf is at his house, he doesn’t know where it is and believes it was actually blue. Though Daunis loves Levi, she senses that they remember things differently—and that perhaps, Levi doesn’t even treasure these memories of skating with Dad nearly as much as Daunis does. But as the novel progresses and as Daunis discovers that Levi is actually involved in the local meth cell, the scarf comes to symbolize the fact that Daunis must embrace a more mature understanding of her brother and of her family—one that acknowledges that Levi and other family members are capable of selfishness and even evil. It’s shocking for Daunis to discover the scarf (which is indeed green) hidden in Levi’s closet, as this tells her that Levi has been lying to her about its whereabouts and qualities for years. She sees Levi’s dishonesty as the ultimate betrayal, one that, combined with Levi’s involvement in the meth cell, forces her to see her brother in a new light.
However, when Daunis confronts Levi about the meth cell and the scarf, Levi also shares more background information about the scarf itself that somewhat changes Daunis’s understanding of it. The scarf, Levi says, was a gift from Daunis’s Mom to his mom, Dana. The scarf, which is the color of Mom’s eyes, was intended to remind both Dad and Dana that Dad initially promised love, marriage, and a life to Mom, and that Dad went back on that promise when he had sex with Dana, impregnated her, and married her. The scarf, Daunis comes to realize, can symbolize many different things. It can continue to represent, for Daunis, happy and uncomplicated memories of skating with her dad. But for other people, like Mom, Dana, and Levi (who’s terrified of wearing the scarf for fear of upsetting Dana), the scarf can represent pain, loss, and betrayal. In this way, the scarf’s multiple meanings mirrors Daunis’s realization that she can continue to love her family, even as she acknowledges that the people she loves are capable of selfishness and evil.
Dad’s Scarf Quotes in Firekeeper’s Daughter
My heart skips a beat.
I tip the basket upside down. Staring at the floor where Dad’s scarf lands.
Green, like my mother’s eyes.
Levi kept it from me. He had it all along.