In the story "The Leap" how are the different flashback episodes related to one another?

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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The flashbacks episodes in "The Leap" are related to each other in three ways. The first way they are related is that they offer the story of the mother's life, the life that led up to her ability to manage without faltering in a world grown dark through the "encroaching" presence of blinding eye cataracts. The flashbacks tell how the mother came to survive a catastrophe of tragic dimensions, a tragedy that took the life of her beloved first husband and of how she went on to build her life anew through the gift of literacy from the doctor who helped save her and who later became her second husband.

The second way the flashback episodes are related is that they tell the progression of events that led to the narrator's, the mother's loving daughter's, birth and existence. The flashbacks tell of how her then pregnant mother's choice to save her life and the life of her first yet unborn child led to the narrator's eventual birth, which followed the marriage between her mother and the doctor who help her recover from her tragic burns and injuries--the mother's first child didn't survive the tragedy: "It was my mother who insisted upon [living in the farmhouse] after her child did not survive." The flashbacks also tell the story of how her mother then saved the narrator's life when their farmhouse caught on fire and there was no other hope of rescue for the narrator who was trapped upstairs except through the mother's heroic trapeze-like rescue through the upstairs window.

The third way in which the flashbacks are related is that they describe a tribute to the mother who has now gone blind, an ironic though somehow fitting end to her life since she spent her youth doing a blind-fold trapeze act with her first husband. The narrator chronicles the heroic ways in which her mother first gave and then saved her life. The flashbacks are related in this sense as a heart-felt gift of gratitude to her mother, to whom she will read all night long every night if needed.

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