In "The Leap" by Louise Erdrich, what are the narrator's feelings towards her mother?

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In "The Leap" by Louise Erdrich, the narrator feel tender love, gratitude, and admiration towards her aged mother, a former trapeze artist. She describes a woman who lived a life of grace and caring.

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In the short story "The Leap" by Louise Erdrich, the narrator displays great admiration and love for her mother. The story is a testimony about how much the narrator is indebted to her. She admires how even in old age and blindness her mother is so graceful and balanced. She writes,

I owe her my existence three times.

She then goes on to relate details of the times that decisions her mother made and actions that she took were so crucial to her own life.

The narrator describes the first act that influenced her life: when her mother saved herself from a terrible accident. Her mother is named Anna, and with her first husband comprises the Flying Avalons circus trapeze act. When lightning during a sudden storm strikes the tent where she and her husband are performing, her husband falls and dies. Anna, although seven months pregnant with her first child, has the quick reflexes to remove her blindfold, grab a wire hot from the lightning, and slide to the ground to safety. Her unborn child dies, but Anna stays alive to later give birth to the narrator.

In the hospital, Anna meets the narrator's father, who turns out to be the doctor who nurses her back to health. The narrator says,

I owe my existence, the second time then, to the two of them and the hospital that brought them together.

During the third incident that the narrator relates her mother literally saves her life. The farmhouse that they have been living in catches fire, and the narrator is trapped alone in her room upstairs. When her parents arrive home, her mother strips down to her underwear and, using the skills that she learned as a circus acrobat, climbs a tree, leaps over to the roof of the house, rescues the narrator, and carries her to safety.

During her long convalescence in the hospital, Anna's husband-to-be teaches her to read, and she develops a love of books. It is a sign of the narrator's respect and love for her mother that when Anna becomes blind and can no longer read, the narrator returns home and stays with her so that she can read to her.

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The narrator has great feelings of tenderness, gratitude, and admiration for her aged mother, who is now blinded with cataracts. She does not treat her mother with pity or impatience, as one might an older person who is fading, but as a someone she cherishes. She says of her mother:

She has never lost her balance or bumped into a closet door left carelessly open.

This is a literal description of her mother, but also a metaphor for her moral centeredness, caring, and grace. Her mother always knew what was important and did everything to protect it.

The narrator, for example, is grateful for her mother, who was once a trapeze artist, for having the presence of mind to save her own life when her husband tumbled to his death. The two were on trapeze, ready to kiss midair, when a sudden storm hitting the tent caused his fall. She could have grabbed his ankle and gone down with him but, because she was seven months pregnant, she decided to save her baby. The baby died but the mother lived. The narrator is grateful for her mother for saving herself both because it showed she valued her unborn child, and because it meant the narrator herself could be born.

In another instance of gratitude, she is grateful that her mother married the narrator's father, a doctor who taught the mother to read. In a third incident, her mother used all her skills as a former trapeze artist to save the narrator from her room in a burning house.

The narrator loves her mother for the grace and caring with which she has lived her life. She was an artist about living life, never making a misstep.

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In "The Leap," the narrator admires her mother. This is shown through her descriptions in the first paragraph in which the narrator notes how her mother's blindness has not affected her ability to move around the house. She mentions her "catlike precision," for instance, and that she has never "lost her balance" nor "bumped into" any objects.

We also get a sense of this admiration through the narrator's depiction of her mother's career in the Flying Avalons. Specifically, the way she talks about their act in which they dropped "gracefully" to kiss each other: "They made a romantic pair all right, especially in the blindfold sequence."

In addition, the narrator feels indebted to her mother, as she explains in the third paragraph: "I owe her my existence three times."

In the third of these examples, the narrator describes how her mother climbed into a burning house to save her, disregarding her own safety as well as her modesty because she had to remove her clothes to do so.

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In "The Leap" by Louise Erdrich how did the narrator's attitude change about her mother's rescue attempt in the end of the story?

In "The Leap," when the mother Anna Avalon comes to rescue the narrator when, as a child, she is caught upstairs in their blazing farmhouse, the narrator is at first embarrassed to see that her mother is standing in front of her in nothing but pearls and underclothing. The narrator thinks with embarrassment of the crowd of people below looking on at her mother improperly clothed. Anna had ripped off her dress because her husband and the narrator's father, in his anguish and distress, couldn't make his fingers work to unzip it.

Anna, half unclothed as she was, instructed the fire fighters to place the broken ladder against a tree trunk growing near the house. Stunned, the firefighters did as she asked then they and all the crowd watched as Anna climbed the tree, slid out to the furthest length of a diminishing branch and jumped to the roof, catching herself by her heels from the roof gutter in a position just above the narrator's bedroom window. This act was an echo of Anna's earlier life as a trapeze artist, a life that ended tragically with the death of her husband and their unborn child, neither of whom survived the tragedy.

Once Anna and the narrator jumped out the window--Anna with her toes pointed--the narrator had time, as her mother always said was the case, to think about many things. The final thing she thought as she and her mother sailed down toward the fire fighter's net was to curl her hands over her mother's while listening to her heart beat and nuzzling against her stomach as her mother held her tightly and safely in their joint fall. the narrator's attitude changed in that protracted instant from one of embarrassment to one of appreciation, gratitude, profound unity and deep love.

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