Last Updated on September 24, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 354
The unnamed narrator is the story's main character. She is the daughter of a woman who used to be a circus performer, along with her husband, as part of the blindfolded trapeze duo known as the Flying Avalons. The narrator says that she owes her mother her existence three times over: first when her mother chose her own life over her emotional connection to her first husband; second, when her mother fell in love with her father in the hospital; and third, when her mother saved her from a house fire when the narrator was seven years old. She recognizes the truth of her mother's statement that there is time to think even as one is falling. It is possible to think critically even as one faces one's apparent doom, though it may require going against one's instincts.
The narrator's mother, Anna, seems to be a pretty remarkable woman. Not only did she perform in the circus as a blindfolded trapeze artist, but she also once heroically saved her daughter from a house fire by climbing a tree, shimmying out on a limb, and leaping into the girl's window. In her old age, she has gone blind, but even the total darkness does not seem to bother her. She retains her poise and grace, never even bumping into anything or losing her balance. She is, as the narrator says, comfortable with extremes. Just as she was comfortable with the risk of falling, she is apparently comfortable with the risks associated with blindness, and this comfort seems to make her more sure of herself and steady on her feet.
In this story, readers learn that Anna has had two husbands in her lifetime: the first was Harold Avalon, her trapeze artist counterpart, who died in the freak accident; and the second is the narrator's father, a doctor. The narrator's father has recently died, and this is what brought the narrator back to live at home with her blind mother. The narrator's father helped to mend Anna's arm after the terrible trapeze accident that killed Harry, and he taught Anna to read and write.
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