What happens in Chapter 2 of Chinese Handcuffs by Chris Crutcher?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chapter 2, Crutcher establishes important psychological motives, sets up various conflicts and develops several female characters. Chapter 2, therefore, is important to follow so that subsequent actions fit into unified character sketches.

   "So, is she coachable?" asked Scotty.
   "The only problem I ever have is getting her to back off her intensity..." said Coach Sherman.

Two events are the material for Chapter 2: (1) a pre-game interview between Coach Kathy Sherman and sports writer Scotty Wakefield; and (2) the last quarter of the Wenatchee game. 

The girls basketball game between rival teams for Chief Joseph and Wenatchee is set to pit two state stars against each other, except that Coach Sherman does not play the star system of basketball; she plays the team system of ball in which all win or lose because all are a focused team.

The star players for the upcoming game are two girls who both play with excellence and power, though, as Jen tells her little sister Dawn, the two are as different as they are alike. Wenatchee star, Renee Halfmoon, has greater skill than Jen and moves like "liquid," but Jen is tougher than Renee. Jen is convinced that it is toughness that will win and promises Dawn that when the game is over, Dawn and she will still be the only two who know Renee is better than Jen.

As the chapter opens, Coach Sherman and Scotty wrangle over her team system because Scotty wants a headline quote about Sherman's predictions for Jen's star performance. Sherman won't give in to Scotty's appetite for sensation but does give him a short biography of Jen's standing and success as an athlete-scholar; she illustrates her remarks by saying Jen is a National Merit Finalist.

   "How do you plan to play Renee Halfmoon?"
   "I don't plan to play Renee Halfmoon," Kathy answered impatiently. "I plan to play Wenatchee."

Crutcher cuts to the last quarter of the game. Jen has been fouled, has injured her head [a common athletic injury called a traumatic brain injury that greatly concerns the CDC]. She shakes her head repeatedly to try to forge a single field of vision out of two competing images: If she can just see where the basket rim is, she can sink the shot. Running out of time, Jen shoots, then falls insensible. She doesn't know that she has succeeded nor does she know that the crowd is going wild. She is insensible.

[Jen] holds the ball a second longer, then lets it go as darkness crowds in. She does not see it snap the bottom of the net, nor does she hear the Chief Joseph fans erupt.

Read the study guide:
Chinese Handcuffs

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