In "The Leap," the narrator owes her life to her mother, Anna, in the following three ways:
- In the first "leap," the mother saves her own life, thereby ensuring the birth of the narrator later on. In this instance, the narrator's mother was performing as part of a blindfold trapeze act called the Flying Avalons when a storm hit the circus tent. Instead of meeting mid-air, as expected, a bolt of lightning hit the main pole, causing the "edifice" to topple forward and thrust Anna's partner, Harry, to the ground. Harry lost his life, but Anna was able to climb to safety, though she burned her hands and later suffered a stillbirth.
- In the second "leap," the narrator's parents meet and fell in love, thereby making it so the narrator could be born later. The narrator's father is a doctor who treats Anna in hospital after her first leap.
- In the final "leap," Anna literally saves her daughter's life by rescuing her from her bedroom during a house fire.
The narrator, of Louise Erdrich's "The Leap," states that she owes her mother her life for three different reasons. According to the narrator, "the first is when she saved her life." During a trapeze act with her husband, the narrator's mother "managed to hang on to the braided metal" even after it was struck by lightening. Unbeknownst to her, she was pregnant. Her ability to twist, turn, and grab the pole insured the life of the mother (the unborn child did not survive).
The second instance where the narrator states she owes her life to her mother is when her father "found" her mother in the hospital. Her father taught her mother to read when tending to her as her doctor. It is the love which kindled between the doctor and the patient which brought about the birth of the narrator.
The third and final time the narrator owes her life to her mother is when she saved her from a fire. When the narrator was seven, their family home caught on fire. With the fire burning out of control, the narrator's mother saves her. She leaps into the air to grab onto the roof and save her daughter.