Pages 154-158 Summary

Russell Kashpaw has built a summer fishing shack which he can move and use for ice fishing in the winter. He enjoys not having a “regular job” so he is free to go fishing and get drunk whenever he wishes, though he is not “much of a drinker.” He keeps a lock on the shack now, since he knows Celestine has discovered it; he knows she has been here because she tidies everything, as is her habit when she is restless. Everything she does is an improvement, but Kashpaw knows Celestine wants to visit and he wants to avoid her a little longer.

Though the door is still locked, he can see her footprints in the snow outside the shack, where she has obviously spent some time waiting for him. Inside, he immediately scoops out the slush from the hole he cut in the ice two days ago before dropping a line through the hole. He sits and watches his red-and-white bobber as his thoughts drift to many things. Whenever his thoughts turn to Celestine, he immediately pushes them away.

He has not seen or spoken to his sister since the day he learned she was pregnant. In July he heard that Karl, Celestine’s boyfriend, was gone, so he went to the house late one night and intended to surprise Celestine by making her breakfast the next morning. Both of them were surprised by the other’s presence, and Kashpaw could see the clear outline of his sister’s pregnant belly. He left, telling her it was her funeral, and has not spoken to her since then. Even though Mary has assured him that Karl is gone for good, Kashpaw has not wanted to go back to see Celestine.

Kashpaw catches a fish, a small northern pike that is too small to keep. He releases the fish back into the water and resets his line before settling back into his chair. The shack is warmer now, and this time when he thinks about Celestine he allows the thoughts to remain. He can see her image in his mind when he feels the first constrictions in his chest and when the constrictions turn to a “slow tingling.” He feels no pain for a time, but it soon coils and uncoils inside him “like a big steel spring” before he collapses into darkness.

At about five o’clock that evening, Celestine arrives at the shack and almost turns around when she sees no light inside; however, she notices the padlock is open and walks inside to find her brother slumped in his lawn chair. When she notices his line has been snapped, Celestine knows something is wrong with him and she drags him into a prone position. Kashpaw opens his eyes and she promises him she will get help. She climbs through many obstacles, feeling as if she is in slow motion, before reaching her car.