The Leap Analysis

One might wonder which "Leap" the title refers to, because there are, in fact, several leaps in the text. The narrator's mother, Anna, as one of the Flying Avalons in the circus, made several blindfolded leaps, always sure that her husband, Harold Avalon, would be there to catch her. Later, Anna makes a different kind of leap, after Harold's death in a tragic accident, when she falls in love again with her doctor, the narrator's father. Rather than returning to the life she knows, Anna chooses to stay in the town where the accident occurred and where her first daughter was stillborn and buried. She chooses to marry her doctor and live on a farm. Anna leaps again when her second daughter, the narrator, is seven years old, in order to save her helpless child from a house fire. She climbs a broken ladder and a tree, crawling on a dangerously slim branch, and leaps to her daughter's bedroom window. Anna and the narrator leap together, from the little girl's window, to the firefighters' net below.

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There are several leaps, which we might call leaps of faith, in the story; it becomes clear that the act of leaping is symbolic of the chances we take while hoping that things will go right for us when we land. We simply have to have faith that someone else will catch us or that we will catch ourselves. However, this does not mean that we do not have the opportunity to assess our risks or weigh the benefits of leaping. Even as we leap, hoping to be caught—whether physically or emotionally—there is actually quite a bit of time to be rational and thoughtful in the free fall, according to Anna.

Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Louise Erdrich’s smooth-flowing narrative makes for deceptively easy reading. The story can be read on several different levels. On its most basic level, it is a pleasant story of a daughter doing her duty by an aging parent whom she loves and respects. On a deeper level, it is a commentary on to what one owes one’s existence and what one makes of it. On yet another level, it speaks of the moments of decision in each person’s life, and the ways in which one uses these moments to change the courses of one’s own and others’ lives.

Such multiple-depth interpretation is typical of short stories in general, but the simplicity of Erdrich’s prose makes her story both more accessible and more obscure. The cleanness of language and vivid beauty of her images make the deeper meanings easier to understand once they are perceived, but the romantic voice relating the tale belies the more profound messages.

Similarly, the repetitive use of key words such as “preparation” and “anticipation”...

(The entire section is 653 words.)