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Last Reviewed on September 25, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 472

Looking at them fills her with a wordless unease. Despite the fact that there are no people in them or even animals, it's as if there is something, or someone, looking back out.

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The paintings Lois has hung up in her apartment provide a masochistic gratification for her. She fears the wilderness as an idea due to the danger it represents, yet she looks into the paintings nonetheless, perhaps in search of answers concerning her friend Lucy, whom the wilderness has claimed and whose memory still torments Lois.

She hears something, almost hears it: a shout of recognition, or of joy.

This quote hints at the supernatural in a work which is otherwise concerned with the mundane. The reader is left to wonder whether or not, while looking into her paintings, Lois has indeed heard the voice of her deceased friend—or whether what she “hears” is in fact the symptom of a mind still tormented by guilt.

“You go on big water,” says Cappie. This is her idea—all their ideas—of how Indians talk. “You go where no man has ever trod. You go many moons.”

Here, the romantic notion of the wilderness is represented in the figure of Cappie, a woman whose Native American heritage renders her, in the eyes of Lois and the other girls, as a human manifestation of the wilderness. This idea of wildness, adventure and going where nobody has yet gone is what Lois is both enticed and intimidated by. The emptiness of the paintings she hangs on her walls years later, moreover, indicates that this oppositional relationship to the wilderness persists in her mind.

Lucy did not care about things she didn’t know, whereas Lois did.

This comparison between the two girls achieves two purposes. First of all, it reflects how, for Lois, the nature of...

(The entire section contains 472 words.)

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