The Clan of the Cave Bear

by Jean M. Auel
Start Free Trial

What happens in chapter 21 of The Clan of the Cave Bear?

In chapter 21 of Clan of the Cave Bear, Ayla returns early after fleeing with her son. She begs Brun for forgiveness, and he considers what to do. Brun and Broud also argue about Broud’s poor leadership skills. In the end, Ayla is allowed to stay, and her son is named Durc.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

At the beginning of chapter 21, Ayla returns to the Clan after the birth of her son. Ayla was not planning to return until her son’s naming day, the day he would have to be accepted by the Clan. However, she returned early to beg the Clan's leader, Brun, for...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

At the beginning of chapter 21, Ayla returns to the Clan after the birth of her son. Ayla was not planning to return until her son’s naming day, the day he would have to be accepted by the Clan. However, she returned early to beg the Clan's leader, Brun, for forgiveness for her disobedience.

Brun is furious, but he reflects on what he should do with great care. Note how the narrator says, “Brun did not like making hasty decisions." This chapter gives the reader a glimpse into Brun’s state of mind. He initially ponders cursing Ayla but is afraid of threatening himself or the Clan. Ayla’s early return partially made up for her actions and gave Brun time to examine the child.

Brun also expresses his frustrations with Broud and says that Broud seems willing to jeopardize the entire group just because he feels threatened by Ayla. This is a tense moment in the chapter, and the narrator stresses that the men watching Broud and Brun argue are shocked. Broud ends up realizing that Brun is right, and the two reconcile.

Brun curses Ayla with the women’s curse, not the death curse she thought she would receive. She is also temporarily forbidden from hunting and has to reveal the location where she hid. Her son is also allowed to live, and the chapter ends with the naming of her baby, Durc.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team