In “The Leap,” what does the narrator suggest is the main reason that her mother, now blind from cataracts, can still safely negotiate her New Hampshire home?

In “The Leap,” the narrator's mother has no difficulty negotiating her home, even though she is blind, because of her years as a trapeze artist. Her experiences with the Flying Avalons, who performed part of their routine blindfolded, has heightened her senses and her balance.

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In “The Leap” by Louise Erdrich, the narrator's mother is blind due to cataracts, but she can walk through her home without ever knocking things over, bumping into doors, or losing her balance. She has, the narrator says, “a catlike precision” in her movement, and she thinks this is because of her mother's “early training.”

The narrator's mother was once one half of the Flying Avalons, a trapeze team. With her first husband, the narrator's mother used to perform fantastic stunts high in the air, and part of their routine was actually accomplished blindfolded.

This experience taught the narrator's mother outstanding balance and control over her body. It also provided her with the ability to use all her senses, not just her sight. Imagine flying through the air blindfolded, seeking one's partner only by the sound of their voice, the motion of air currents, and the touch of their hand. This is what the narrator's mother once did. She learned to apply all her senses and to take control over her body's reaction to her environment.

This is why the narrator's mother can walk through her house with no problems. She can sense her environment well. She does not need to see to know where things are, and her years on the trapeze have given her excellent balance in all circumstances, even blind.

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