The Indian in the Cupboard

by Lynne Reid Banks

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Chapters 7–9 Summary and Analysis

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Last Updated on June 7, 2021, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1060

Chapter 7

Riding his bicycle, Omri arrives at the hardware shop just before it closes. There, he picks out a seed tray, as well as maize seeds. After his purchase, he runs into Patrick, who offers him a cowboy figurine to match his Indian one. Omri declines, however, insisting that the two would fight. This agitates Patrick, and Omri ends up agreeing to introduce him to Little Bear in order to save their friendship.

At home, Omri is horrified to see his two brothers huddled in the center of his room. Fortunately, they are merely marveling over the longhouse in the seed tray—and have not seen Little Bear and his horse. Omri hustles his brothers outside and assures Little Bear that he can come out of hiding. He introduces Little Bear to an astonished Patrick.

Omri explains to Patrick that he used the cupboard to bring Little Bear to life. When Patrick suggests bringing all their plastic toys to life, Omri explains to him that they aren’t just “alive”—they’re real people. To emphasize this point, he shows Patrick the chief’s dead body.

Little Bear demands that Omri use his magic so that he can hunt animals. He insists that, as a newly inducted chief, he must hunt, kill, and cook his own meat. Luckily, Omri has an idea, and he rushes all around the house to retrieve firelighters, a slice of raw meat, and his brother’s tin plate. He makes Little Bear a roasting spit and teaches him how to use it. Mesmerized by Little Bear, Patrick asks if he can have a living toy of his own.

Chapter 8

Patrick moves toward Omri’s tin can of toy soldiers, but Omri quickly grabs him. The two grapple with each other until Omri accidentally steps on Little Bear’s roasting spit. Angered, Little Bear accuses Omri of being no “Great Spirit” and tries to attack him with his battle-axe. Omri apologizes to Little Bear and bids him to relax and paint his teepee, as Omri will replace the food he stepped on.

Having procured a spoonful of stew from his mother, Omri realizes too late that he has left Patrick alone with the cupboard and rushes upstairs. Back inside the room, he is dismayed to find that Patrick has used the cupboard to bring his toy cowboy to life. As a result of his carelessness, however, Patrick ends up being shot in the cheek by the frightened cowboy. After scolding Patrick, Omri declares that he will turn the cowboy back into plastic, against which his friend vehemently protests.

Little Bear thanks Omri for the stew. He then asks Omri if he could conjure a wife for him, to which Omri agrees. Patrick suggests putting Little Bear and the cowboy together to see what they do, but Omri is fearful that they’ll kill each other. Suddenly, they hear footsteps coming up the stairs. They have just hidden Little Bear and the cowboy when Omri’s mother enters the room and tells Patrick that he is being summoned home. After Omri’s mother leaves, Patrick puts the cowboy in his pocket and turns to go. Omri protests, however, and tells Patrick that he is going to ruin the secret of the cupboard. Patrick gives in and leaves the cowboy with Omri. However, he threatens that he’ll tell everyone about the cupboard if Omri doesn’t bring the cowboy to school tomorrow.

Chapter 9

Carefully planning how to keep Little Bear and the cowboy apart for one night, Omri decides to put the cowboy and his horse inside his dressing-up crate. The cowboy refuses to look at Omri...

(This entire section contains 1060 words.)

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even as Omri leaves him food and bedding. He exclaims that Omri and his room are a terrible hallucination and proceeds to cry. Omri feels sorry for the cowboy but decides to leave him alone.

Before going to bed, Omri checks on Little Bear, who demands that Omri make him a fire. Omri obliges, and the two talk. Little Bear promises to dance for Omri if he finds him a wife.

In the morning, Omri wakes with a start at the sound of tiny gunshots. He realizes that the cowboy has escaped from the crate and that he and Little Bear are shooting at each other. Because it is clear that Little Bear has the upper hand, Omri tells the Indian to stop. He threatens Little Bear that he will not find him a wife if he hurts the cowboy. Little Bear concedes and persuades Omri to bring him along to the store so that he may choose his wife.

Omri attends to the cowboy, who mournfully informs him that he has lost his hat. After Omri finds the hat and gives it to him, the cowboy thanks Omri and introduces himself as Boone. He explains that his nickname is Boohoo, because he cries easily. Omri then promises Boone breakfast, which brightens the cowboy’s disposition.


In chapter 7, Omri finds out from the shopkeeper that “maize” is actually corn. His curiosity stems from the book he read in the library about Native Americans, where it is stated that the Iroquois and many other Indian tribes subsisted on the “Three Sisters”—maize, squash, and beans. His buying of the maize seeds marks his growing appreciation of Little Bear’s culture.

Omri’s decision to introduce Patrick to Little Bear marks a turning point in the novel, as his friend’s arrival brings about a new conflict. Omri and Patrick fight over how to use the cupboard—Omri wants to stay careful, while Patrick insists on having more fun with its magic. Eventually, Patrick uses the cupboard to bring his toy cowboy to life without Omri’s permission. Omri’s and Patrick’s approaches to Boone and Little Bear highlight their different personalities. While Patrick wants to put them together and watch them fight, Omri fears for the safety of the two. It is clear that it has not yet registered to Patrick that Boone and Little Bear are human beings—not just toys.

Finally, Patrick’s careless excitement over the cupboard proves to be a source of stress for Omri. Since he is adamant about keeping the cupboard a secret, Patrick’s involvement greatly threatens Omri’s discretion—as will prove to be more than true in the coming chapters.


Chapters 4–6 Summary and Analysis


Chapters 10–12 Summary and Analysis