How does Junior's mother inspire unity at Grandmother Spirit's service? 

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wmche001 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Although Junior's mother is a flawed character who has personal struggles throughout the story, Grandmother Spirit's funeral shows a potential change in her character.  Grandmother Spirit is such an influential part of the community that over 2,000 members of the tribe show up to pay their respects.  The gathering is so large in fact that it must be held on a football field.

There is a fairly somber mood until the "billionaire white dude" Ted comes with a surprise.  He is in possession of a powwow outfit that his researchers claim belonged to Grandmother Spirit.  This is when Junior's mother very respectfully interjects that it couldn't have been Grandmother Spirit's outfit because she never danced in powwows.  The billionaire flees in embarrassment and everyone falls silent.  Junior's mother begins to laugh because of the absurdity of the situation and everyone else follows suit.

This action by Junior's mother shows leadership and when she laughs everyone realizes how bizarre and funny the situation was.  This is very much a passing of the torch moment where Junior's mother takes over the leadership or matriarch role of the tribe.  Prior to this she is only thought of as an underachieving alcoholic, but after this she may be seen as a figure who can take charge of a difficult situation and continue the unity of the community that Grandmother Spirit provided.

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