The Leap Questions and Answers
by Louise Erdrich

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What are examples of foreshadowing in the story "The Leap" by Louise Erdrich?

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Carter Westfall eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Foreshadowing is a technique in which the writer uses words, phrases and sentences to hint at some future event without revealing the plot. The technique obviously adds to the intrigue and drama of the unfolding story.

"The Leap" presents a number of examples. The title itself represents not only the central idea around which the story revolves but also draws the reader's attention to the unfolding events which culminates in Anna Avalon's dramatic, life-risking jump to rescue the narrator. It, furthermore, also suggests the dramatic decisions Anna made by, firstly, during the initial fire in the tent, deciding to leap towards a different object to save her life and, later, taking up reading during her recovery, giving up her career as a trapeze artist, marrying and then moving to a different place. The contrasts between Anna's life before and after can be seen as 'leaps of faith.' She probably hoped that she was making the right choices.

In the first paragraph, the narrator's reference that 'She has never lost her balance or bumped into a closet door left carelessly open' foreshadows the exactness of Anna's technique when she dramatically rescued the narrator.

Further examples are found in the earlier paragraphs, such as in the following quote from paragraph two:

...I hear the crackle, catch a whiff of smoke from the stove downstairs and suddenly the room goes dark, the stitches burn beneath my fingers, and I am sewing with a needle of hot silver, a thread of fire.

In this sentence, the narrator foreshadows not only the fire in the tent but also Anna clutching onto a heavily braided wire which was still hot from the lightning strike. The reference to Anna and her husband's kiss foreshadows the kiss that she gives her daughter after she saves her. More pertinent, though, is the fact that a newspaper article reported that the two artists' lips were 'destined never again to meet.' This clearly foreshadows Harry Avalon's untimely demise.

The repeated references to the capricious weather also foreshadow future negative events such as the conflagration in the tent, Harry Avalon's death, Anna's injury and the loss of her baby, and the fire at the end of the story. Bad weather is, more often than not, used as an omen for some future ill.

One could add that the blindfold used in the trapeze act also suggests Anna's eventual blindness. Finally, the narrator's statement that, 'Her palms were burned so terribly that once healed they bore no lines, only the blank scar tissue of a quieter future' is clearly suggestive of the quiet life that Anna would later lead in that 'she shows so little of the drama or flair one might expect from a performer.'

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Some elements of foreshadowing in "The Leap" by Louise Erdrich are as follows. The Avalon trapeze act foreshadows the later window rescue of the narrator as a little girl by her mother. The Avalon's blindfolded act foreshadows the mother's eventual blindness from cataracts. The dramatic weather changes in New England foreshadows the several sudden and dramatic changes that occur: the lightning strike, the second marriage, the fire and rescue.

When extremes of temperature collide, a hot and cold front, winds generate instantaneously behind a hill and crash upon you without warning. That, I think, was the likely situation on that day in June. People probably commented on the pleasant air....

The kiss in midair foreshadows the midair window rescue from the fire. The trapeze act foreshadows the leap to the roof's edge during the fire rescue. Finally, the title foreshadows the mother's choice at the lightning strike, the second marriage, and of course the fire rescue.

When her hands did not meet her husband's, my mother tore her blindfold away. As he swept past her on the wrong side, she could have grasped his ankle, ... she changed direction. Her body twisted toward a heavy wire and she managed to hang on....

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beatboxqueen | Student

the avalon trapeze act foreshadows the window rescue of the narrators as a little child by her mother

the avalon's blindfold act foreshadows the mother's blindness from cataracts.

the kiss in midair foreshadows the window rescue from the fire.