Pages 179-204 Summary

In the first three years of Dot’s life, the winters are so frigid that many things do not survive. Finally, when Dot is five, the weather turns mild and Mary softens her heart toward the girl. Mary has always hated the name Celestine chose (Wallacette) and Celestine has always stubbornly rejected any help from Mary. Mary is convinced she understands things about Dot which Celestine cannot accept.

Mary knows that Dot was “never meant to be a baby.” The child is impatient with the dependence of being an infant and moves recklessly toward independence and danger as soon as she is able. Trouble seems to avoid her loud little voice, and the first word Dot speaks clearly is “more.” She is spoiled and greedy, only grudgingly adding “please” to her demands. Mary sees hints of others in the child, but Dot positively resembles Mary the most, both physically and in temperament. Mary completely indulges her niece.

When she starts school, Dot is big (like Celestine was and is), strong, and spoiled. Her classmates immediately recognize that they are doves and she is a hawk; for seven years, until high school, she will violently pursue their affection.

One day Dot is in trouble at school and with Celestine, and Mary takes pity on her. Mary should have known Dot would lie to her to get more sympathy, but she forgets and believes the story that Dot’s teacher has a “naughty box” in which children are stuffed when they misbehave. Mary overreacts and stuffs the poor teacher in the red toy box in the back of her classroom, even though the teacher insists the naughty box is actually just a spot on the blackboard.

Officer Lovchik arrives at the butcher shop the next day, and Mary is forced to admit she believed Dot’s lie about the teacher and then overreacted. Celestine does not speak to Mary for most of the summer.

Karl periodically sends Dot random items and postcards from his travels; the most recent is an electric wheelchair he won as a door prize at a convention. Dot wants it for a toy, but Celestine insists they give the chair to Russell Kashpaw. Kashpaw was paralyzed by his stroke six years ago and lives on the reservation with his half-brother Eli. Mary drives them and the wheelchair to Eli’s house.

Celestine’s imposing Aunt Fleur is there and quite protective of Russell, who does not respond to or acknowledge them in any way. While Celestine and Mary have coffee inside with Eli, Dot rides on the wheelchair and Fleur insists she get out of it. Finally Dot is sprawled on the ground and Celestine is ready to leave. On the way home, both women wonder where everything Russell once was, what he once thought and did, has gone. Mary wonders where everything goes and what is really inside anyone.