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Louise Erdrich's "The Leap" tells of the three debts the narrator owes to her mother (a former trapeze artist who is now blind). The reference to a leap refers to both the mother's life as a trapeze artist and the narrator's understanding (a leap of faith, in sorts) of her mother's actions over the years.
The narrator's reference to her mother living comfortably in "extreme elements" is supported by both her former profession as a blindfolded trapeze artist mirroring her current situation (actually being blind). Her mother's previous life allowed her to feel comfort in the darkness her lost sight forced upon her. Since blindness is not typical, the mother's experience with being blindfolded and flying through the air proves to be extreme. Following her comfort with her blindfolded trapeze act, her actual blindness fails to bother her at all. In fact, she feels safe.
Her safety in her blindness comes from the peace she felt right before the horrible accident which took the life of Harry. Moments before the lightening hit the main pole of the tent, the narrator's mother found herself to be completely peaceful. Now, blinded by cataracts, the mother feels the same peace (given she will never see what is coming).
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