Tracks

Fleur Pillager Character Analysis

Fleur Pillager is a Native American woman who lives apart from the rest of her tribe on her family’s land on the coast of Lake Matchimanito. She is stubborn and self-sufficient, unwilling to compromise her values or her allegiance to her family and culture. She is rumored to have magical powers, having survived drowning twice and supposedly responsible for the otherwise unexplained deaths of many men who have crossed her. When the novel begins, the rest of her family has died of consumption and she is rescued from the same fate by a tribe elder, Nanapush. She leaves the reservation for a short time to work in a butcher shop in the nearby town of Argus, where she gambles with the male workers. The men grow frustrated with her successes and attack her. She returns to the reservation, and shortly after a storm destroys the town, harming only the men who sought their revenge on her. When she returns to the reservation it is rumored she is pregnant with the child of one of those men, but it’s also possible that she has returned with money stuffed into her dress for safekeeping. Other residents of the reservation speculate that the baby might also be that of the Lake Monster, Misshepeshu, with whom they believe Fleur has a special relationship. Soon after, though, she becomes involved with Eli Kashpaw, giving birth to a daughter named Lulu, who Eli raises with Fleur as his own child. Fleur becomes pregnant again, but the baby is stillborn, and the effects of this occurrence, as well as the threat to Fleur’s land, send Fleur into a deep depression. Fleur works hard to save her property, but is betrayed by Eli’s mother Margaret, and loses the land. Fleur serves as the clearest example of a purely Native existence, having no involvement with the Catholic Church, but she does place her daughter Lulu in boarding school to protect her from the threats imposed on the reservation. Despite the fact that she has officially lost ownership of her land, she insists on living on the land illegally anyway.

Fleur Pillager Quotes in Tracks

The Tracks quotes below are all either spoken by Fleur Pillager or refer to Fleur Pillager. 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:
Tradition, Assimilation, and Religion Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Harper Perennial edition of Tracks published in 2011.
Chapter 1 Quotes

Within us, like ice shards, their names bobbed and shifted. Then the slivers of ice began to collect and cover us. We became so heavy, weighted down with the lead, gray frost, that we could not move. Our hands lay on the table like cloudy blocks. The blood with us grew thick. We needed no food. And little warmth. Days passed, weeks and we didn’t leave the cabin for fear we’d crack our cold fragile bodies. We had gone half windigo. I learned later that this was common, that there were many of our people who died in this manner, of the invisible sickness. There were those who could not swallow another bite of food. Because the names of their dead anchored their tongues. There were those who let their blood stop, who took the road west after all.

Related Characters: Nanapush (speaker), Fleur Pillager
Page Number: 6
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 2 Quotes

It wasn't that Fleur won that hooked them in so, because she lost hands, too. It was rather that she never had a freak deal or even anything above a straight. She only took on her low cards, which didn’t sit right. By chance, Fleur should have gotten a full or a flush by now. The irritating thing was she beat with pairs and never bluffed, because she couldn’t, and still she ended each night with exactly one dollar. Lily couldn’t believe, first of all, that a woman could be smart enough to play cards, but even if she was, that she would then be stupid enough to cheat for a dollar a night.

Related Characters: Pauline Puyat (speaker), Fleur Pillager, Lily Vedder
Page Number: 21
Explanation and Analysis:
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That spring, I went to help out in her cabin when she bore the child, whose green eyes and skin the color of an old penny have made more talk, as no one can decide if the child is mixed blood or what, fathered in a smokehouse, or by a man with brass scales, or by the lake. The girl is bold, smiling in her sleep, as if she knows what people wonder, as if she hears the old men talk, turning the story over. It comes up different every time, and has no ending, no beginning. They get the middle wrong too. They only know they don’t know anything.

Related Characters: Pauline Puyat (speaker), Fleur Pillager, Lulu Nanapush
Page Number: 31
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 3 Quotes

The thing I’ve found about women is that you must use every instinct to confuse. “Look here,” I told Eli before he went out my door, “it’s like you’re a log in a stream. Along comes this bear. She jumps on. Don’t let her dig in her claws.” So keeping Fleur off balance was what I presumed Eli was doing.

Related Characters: Nanapush (speaker), Fleur Pillager, Eli Kashpaw
Related Symbols: Bears
Page Number: 46
Explanation and Analysis:
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It didn’t occur to me till later to wonder if it didn’t go both ways, though, if Fleur had wound her private hairs around the buttons of Eli’s shirt, if she had stirred smoky powders or crushed snakeroot into his tea. Perhaps she had bitten his nails in her sleep, swallowed the ends, snipped threads from his clothing and made a doll to wear between her legs.

Related Characters: Nanapush (speaker), Fleur Pillager, Eli Kashpaw
Page Number: 49
Explanation and Analysis:
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I am a man so I don’t know exactly what happened when the bear came into the birth house, but they talk among themselves, the women, and sometimes they forget I’m listening. So I know that when Fleur saw the bear in the house she was filled with such fear and power that she raised herself on the mound of blankets and gave birth. Then Pauline took down the gun and shot point-blank, filling the bear’s heart. She says so anyway. But she says that the lead only gave the bear strength, and I’ll support that. For I heard the gun go off and then saw the creature whirl and roar from the house. It barreled past me, crashed through the brush into the woods, and was not seen after. It left no trail either, so it could have been a spirit bear. I don’t know.

Related Characters: Nanapush (speaker), Fleur Pillager, Pauline Puyat
Related Symbols: Bears, Tracks/Trails
Page Number: 60
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 4 Quotes

In the morning, before they washed in Matchimanito, they smelled like animals, wild and heady, and sometimes in the dusk their fingers left tracks like snails, glistening and wet. They made my head hurt. A heaviness spread between my legs and ached. The tips of my breasts chafed and wore themselves to points and a yawning eagerness gripped me.

Related Characters: Pauline Puyat (speaker), Fleur Pillager, Eli Kashpaw
Related Symbols: Matchimanito, Tracks/Trails
Page Number: 72
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 6 Quotes

Then Fleur washed me, but I warned myself not to experience any pleasure. I sat down in the water, felts its heat as a sharp danger, but then I forgot. The child soaped my back with a slick plant, and scrubbed the agonizing itch of rough twine and harsh woolens. I gave her my hand. She washed each finger, then each toe. Fleur pared the overgrown nails with a knife. The girl rinsed away the sting of nettles, aggravation of hooked burrs. She dislodged the invisible strands of screwgrass that had woven into my skin. Fleur poured a pitcher of warm water over me and then began to shampoo my head and hair. It was so terrible, so pleasant, that I abandoned my Lord and all His rules and special requirements.

Related Characters: Pauline Puyat (speaker), Fleur Pillager, Lulu Nanapush
Page Number: 154
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 9 Quotes

“Go to her. She saved my life twice and now she’s taken it twice back, so there are no more debts. But you, whom I consider my father, I still owe. I will not harm your wife. But I never will go to Kashpaw land.”

Related Characters: Fleur Pillager (speaker), Nanapush, Margaret Kashpaw
Page Number: 214
Explanation and Analysis:
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She sent you to the government school, it is true, but you must understand there were reasons: there would be no place for you, no safety on this reservation, no hiding from government papers, or from Morrisseys who shaved heads or the Turcot Company, leveler of the whole forest. There was also no predicting what would happen to Fleur herself. So you were sent away, another piece cut from my heart.

Related Characters: Nanapush (speaker), Fleur Pillager, Lulu Nanapush
Page Number: 219
Explanation and Analysis:
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Fleur Pillager Character Timeline in Tracks

The timeline below shows where the character Fleur Pillager appears in Tracks. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: Winter 1912, Manitou-geezisohns, Little Spirit Sun
Tradition, Assimilation, and Religion Theme Icon
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The Importance of Nature in Indigenous Life Theme Icon
...that would have taken away their woods and lake. He also saved “the last Pillager,” Fleur, Lulu’s mother. (full context)
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Nanapush says he found Fleur in her family’s cabin on Matchimanito Lake, where he and his companion in the tribal... (full context)
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Nanapush straps the sick Fleur to their sled of supplies. The tribal policeman wants to burn the cabin down, as... (full context)
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...and he leaves with the sled of their supplies, dying soon after he arrives home. Fleur, however, improves slowly, and she and Nanapush grieve the losses of their families together. (full context)
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When he is well enough, Nanapush returns to Matchimanito to bury Fleur’s family. He makes the markers for their graves, scratching images of bears and a marten... (full context)
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Father Damien, a young new priest, appears at their door one day to say that Fleur’s cousin Moses has been found in the woods. When Nanapush goes outside to gather snow... (full context)
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...measuring the lake, despite their fear of the lake monster, Misshepeshu. Nanapush tries to convince Fleur to stay with him in his cabin, but she remains intent on returning to her... (full context)
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Fleur is asked to pay the fee for all four of her family allotments. The Agent... (full context)
Chapter 2: Summer 1913, Miskomini-geezis, Raspberry Sun
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Pauline, a second narrator, tells of the first time Fleur drowned as a child. She is saved by two men who later disappear. When Fleur... (full context)
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Out in the woods alone, Fleur is thought to have gone mad, wearing men’s clothing, studying the ancient traditions of medicine,... (full context)
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Fleur walks to the small town of three hundred people, drawn by the thin steeple of... (full context)
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Pauline admires Fleur, who refuses to tell Pauline about what happened in the time of the sickness on... (full context)
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...after closing to make dinner together and play poker or cribbage, but they rarely talk. Fleur’s card-playing catches their attention even more than her looks. The men are surprised when Fleur... (full context)
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Fleur plays steadily, but the men know she can’t bluff. Pauline goes to sleep on a... (full context)
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Each night for a week, Fleur wins exactly one dollar, and the men bristle at her consistency. They wonder at how... (full context)
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Pauline becomes Fleur’s shadow, copying her every move. In August, Pete and Fritzie head north to escape the... (full context)
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...the men leave the table, Pauline drags Russell with her to follow them. Lily follows Fleur into the hog pen, trapping her, and she dumps a bucket of slop on him.... (full context)
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The next morning Fleur is gone, and the men are all hungover. Russell is beside himself, blaming himself for... (full context)
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When Pete and Fritzie return from their time away, Fritzie asks after Fleur, whom no one knows the whereabouts of, and the other men, and that is when... (full context)
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Pauline leaves Argus. Fleur has moved back to Matchimanito. Pauline says she is the only one to visit Fleur... (full context)
Chapter 3: Fall 1913-Spring 2014, Onaubin-geezis, Crust on the Snow Sun
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Fleur both embraces and resists Nanapush like any daughter would a father after he saves her.... (full context)
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Fleur returns from Argus holding a black umbrella and wearing a dress that is too small... (full context)
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The lake monster seems to have calmed down with Fleur’s return; the fish are plentiful, and no boats are lost. Fleur’s presence in the woods... (full context)
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It’s Moses who visits town to buy supplies for both himself and Fleur, and to pay off the Pillager allotments. He pays with coins and bills, when the... (full context)
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...aunt says that Pauline has had visions. The people of the reservation speculate about how Fleur earned the money and why they never see her, and predict that she is pregnant—perhaps... (full context)
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...in the days before the church banned such relationships. Eli has become interested in courting Fleur Pillager. (full context)
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...he is led to a fire where the deer has been already hung and split. Fleur stands there, gutting the deer herself. Eli tells Fleur that the doe is his, and... (full context)
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Eli refuses this idea and tells of how he joined Fleur in butchering the animal. He finishes the job, hoists much of the meat into a... (full context)
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...by talking so much that death could not get a word in edgewise. Speaking of Fleur, Nanapush tells Eli, “It’s like you’re a log in a stream. Along comes this bear.... (full context)
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...of the advanced lovemaking techniques her son was witnessed performing in the open woods (with Fleur). Margaret says she was told this information by Boy Lazarre, and Nanapush realizes that Margaret... (full context)
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Fleur and Eli continue with their bold displays of affection until the whole reservation is talking.... (full context)
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...ears, sending him into a daze that lasts until Margaret returns from her visit to Fleur’s cabin. Margaret throws some tobacco into the fitful waters as an offering and they head... (full context)
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...her story. Margaret is happy to study all of the information, and is sure that Fleur’s child must not be Eli’s. She predicts the child will be born a demon of... (full context)
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Fleur’s labor begins. Pauline runs to fetch Margaret, as she might be the grandmother. Nanapush paddles... (full context)
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...on the afternoon of the second day, they hear the sound of the Manitous in Fleur’s cries, and Nanapush speculates that perhaps the bear heard these calls as well. Eli, who... (full context)
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...the house because he was not there. The bear rears on its hind legs and Fleur, filled with fear and power at the sight, gives birth. Pauline takes the gun down... (full context)
Chapter 4: Winter 1914-Summer 1917, Meen-geezis, Blueberry Sun
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...in Argus to Margaret, but after she shares this information she begins to dream of Fleur. Pauline then reveals that it was she who locked the men inside the meat shed... (full context)
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...Margaret was unable to resist the lure of her granddaughter, and takes up residence in Fleur’s cabin to help raise Lulu. Pauline continues to visit the cabin, but she gets the... (full context)
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Pauline can feel the electricity between Eli and Fleur, and it spurs a jealous lust in her as well. Pauline thinks of finding herself... (full context)
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...people recognize her as a sign that someone is dying. She also continues to visit Fleur’s cabin, hoping to soak up some of the attraction between Eli and Fleur in lieu... (full context)
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...man to help on the farm, specifying Eli. When Pauline returns to the Pillager cabin, Fleur tells her Eli is in the woods. Pauline tells Fleur about the opportunity at the... (full context)
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...tell him her plan—which is to snare Eli—even though she knows Moses will certainly tell Fleur. Pauline plans to bake the concoction into Eli’s lunch. On the first day, Pauline sees... (full context)
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...but she knows that Eli cannot betray her crime without revealing his own crime to Fleur. The next day Pauline reveals to Bernadette that she did witness what happened, but that... (full context)
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Sophie kneels, as if possessed, outside Fleur’s cabin. Pauline arrives and tries to break Sophie’s trance. Fleur tells her there’s no need... (full context)
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...string, and still Sophie does not move. Eli gathers his courage and enters the cabin. Fleur ignores him, continuing to cook some venison, and flinching from him when he tries to... (full context)
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...men leave, and Pauline stays to assess that Sophie has not changed since she left Fleur’s cabin, aside from Margaret having built a small fire to keep the girl warm. Clarence... (full context)
Chapter 5: Fall 1917-Spring 1918, Manitou-geezis, Strong Spirit Sun
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...if he showed some remorse. Eli claims he was bewitched, but Nanapush warns him that Fleur will only think him weak if he uses that excuse. (full context)
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...the gopher stew and grimaces at the foul taste. He tells Nanapush that he wishes Fleur were a member of the church, because then he could simply ask for forgiveness. (full context)
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...home as soon as possible to be sure his family has enough food. Eli says Fleur knows how to fish in the ice, and that she’s a good shot besides. (full context)
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...regards him as a son. Eli says that he knows he cannot stay away from Fleur. When he returned after the incident with Sophie, Fleur would not speak to him, touch... (full context)
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Eli tells Nanapush that one night Fleur slipped out of the cabin and Eli followed her to the lake. Fleur entered the... (full context)
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...Eli that he is foolish and ungrateful. Nanapush says that Eli must start over with Fleur to win her back, this time by humbling himself to her. Eli falls asleep and... (full context)
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...the sell-off. Nanapush warns them that any harm done to Margaret will be punished by Fleur’s cursing of men who do her wrong. Clarence appears skeptical, but it’s clear Boy believes. (full context)
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...with Eli, but Eli is tending to his traps in an attempt to reconcile with Fleur. Margaret doesn’t shame Nanapush, but when she sees her reflection in her mirror, she vows... (full context)
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...hard on how they’ll do it, eventually thinking of a plan when they return to Fleur’s cabin. Margaret tells Fleur what happened, and Fleur wordlessly shaves her own head in solidarity... (full context)
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Fleur goes to town with her newly bald head, and Clarence and Boy run from her... (full context)
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...Nanapush offers to return the wire to him. At the trading post later, Nanapush and Fleur run into Boy, who, scared, steps backward into a row of traps set as demonstration,... (full context)
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Eli returns to Fleur and she accepts him back. People fish through the ice on the surface of Lake... (full context)
Chapter 6: Spring 1918-Winter 1919, Payaetonookaedaed-geeziz, Wood Louse Sun
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...to tell the sister. Pauline waits for God to tell her what to do about Fleur, who Pauline believes is the gateway to the lake monster and Manitous for the tribe.... (full context)
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Pauline goes to Fleur’s cabin with the goal of converting those inside. Fleur opens the door and Pauline sees... (full context)
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Fleur brings up Marie, and Pauline claims to know nothing about her, but Fleur identifies that... (full context)
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Pauline continues to visit Fleur’s cabin, and Nanapush notices that she wears her shoes on the wrong feet, another way... (full context)
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Fleur offers to wash Pauline’s clothes so that she can come inside. Fleur tells Lulu to... (full context)
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Pauline then notices that Fleur is bleeding, and Fleur asks Pauline to retrieve some alder for her to stop the... (full context)
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Fleur grabs the child and tries to resuscitate it. Finally, it cries. Fleur then goes to... (full context)
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...the dead she has blessed, and sees her own mother and father, too. She begs Fleur to turn back, but they approach a fire where they see the three men from... (full context)
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...was her who sealed them in the meat locker on the day of the storm. Fleur and Pauline race back to the cabin just before Margaret arrives. Pauline finds that her... (full context)
Chapter 7: Winter 1918-Spring 1919, Paguk Beboon, Skeleton Winter
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...cabin. Lulu is so frozen that she can say only that something is wrong with Fleur. Margaret wraps her in warmed blankets. The snow outside has obscured any trail or typical... (full context)
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Nanapush nurses Lulu for days in Margaret’s cabin, though Fleur, trapped in her own cabin by the weather and her weakness, begs for her, convinced... (full context)
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When Nanapush arrives at the cabin, Fleur looks ragged and sick, and lurches toward Lulu on the sled. The black umbrella has... (full context)
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The next day, Fleur cuts a hole in the ice of the lake to fish. Eli wrestles her home... (full context)
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...but Nanapush can see that the real threat is that of the lumberjacks and bankers. Fleur believes no one would try to collect Pillager land, but Margaret knows that times have... (full context)
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...they are giving up some of their independence in accepting them. He notes, too, that Fleur has changed. She is less straightforward, and is eager to cover the fear caused by... (full context)
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Nanapush thinks of the wisdom he would pass onto Fleur if she would listen. After much thought, he tells Fleur that he has never believed... (full context)
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Nanapush says that after Fleur lost her other baby, she became more protective of Lulu. Margaret asks Fleur to let... (full context)
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Nanapush pulls some meat from the boiling pot with his hands and gives it to Fleur to eat. Pauline approaches the pot, and Margaret tries to quietly nudge her out of... (full context)
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Afterward Fleur seems improved, but Nanapush isn’t sure if it’s his cure that helped her or the... (full context)
Chapter 8: Spring 1919, Baubaukunaetae-geezis, Patches of Earth Sun
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Pauline looks for a sign, and finally sees Fleur standing on the shore. Pauline calls to her and Fleur, in her white scarf, seems... (full context)
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...as her husband. She overhears that the Morrisseys found Napoleon in the woods and blamed Fleur for his death. Pauline believes that her deed of killing the devil in the form... (full context)
Chapter 9: Fall 1919-1924, Minomini-geezis, Wild Rice Sun
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Nanapush hears wildlife rushing toward Fleur’s cabin, and soon after finds the cause to be the lumberjacks cutting down the homes... (full context)
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...a politician. Nanapush loses himself in his thoughts as he approaches the untouched wilderness surrounding Fleur’s cabin. Lulu approaches him, looking for candies, but finds none. She leads him to Fleur. (full context)
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...after this, the three never lived together again. It is revealed that Lulu won’t visit Fleur now, because she’s angry her mother sent her away. When Nanapush finishes telling Fleur about... (full context)
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Eli suggests that Fleur could live on the Kashpaw land if she will marry him. She remains silent, purposefully... (full context)
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Eli dives in after her to try to save her, but Fleur struggles against him. Eli drags her back to land, unconscious. Nanapush tells Lulu to go... (full context)
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Nanapush wraps Fleur in the blanket, telling her to close her eyes, and she falls asleep. They remain... (full context)
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...when the surveyors find Napoleon’s body. Napoleon is surrounded by natural objects that Nanapush assumes Fleur put there, but she doesn’t even get a chance to defend herself. The Morrisseys and... (full context)
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...trees, and many of their workers die in unusual accidents, but this doesn’t deter them. Fleur seems to be flourishing in the woods despite the approaching threats, and Nanapush wonders if... (full context)
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Nanapush tells Lulu that Fleur sent her away because she could not protect Lulu from all these threats, including herself.... (full context)
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Nanapush goes to visit Fleur, walking around the lake the long way, despite the threatening weather. As he approaches her... (full context)
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The weather gets very still as Nanapush sees Fleur standing in the door of her cabin, and he knows Moses is also nearby. With... (full context)
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...hold their positions. Then a tree crashes down, out of sight. Another tree topples, and Fleur grins at the nervous men. One man tries to escape, but a tree bars his... (full context)
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The wind picks up and knocks down all the trees. Then Fleur wheels out a cart from behind her cabin. The cart contains her weed-wrapped stones from... (full context)
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...Lulu is changed from her time, but she still has the angry grin that matches Fleur’s. Lulu runs to them, and they brace themselves like trees in the wind. (full context)