Summary and Analysis Chapter 14
Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 883
This chapter opens with first-person narration from King Junior, in which we learn that he has chosen to be called by his middle name, Howard.
The narration then switches to Liphsa Morrisey’s point-of-view. Lipsha has just been told by Lulu that Gerry was his father, and now Lipsha wants to meet him. Lulu has also told him that June was his mother, but of course there is no way for him to meet her. Lulu’s motivation for telling Lipsha is simple—she has nothing to lose and a grandson to gain. Lulu also tells him that Gerry is being transferred to a low-security prison, and Lipsha has a good chance of being able to find him if Gerry breaks out as he usually does.
Overwhelmed by this information, Lipsha steals money from Grandma Marie and goes to the city. There he signs up with the army and moves into a veteran’s hotel. It doesn’t take long with the run-down, mostly alcoholic vets to realize that this could be his future, too, if he stays with the army, and so Lipsha decides to meet his father. Lipsha goes to the Twin Cities and ends up with King, the tormenter who used to call him an “orphant” and steal all of his food. He watches King pick on his own son Howard, even criticizing the way the boy eats cereal, and Lipsha sees the slow boiling hatred this treatment produces in Howard.
To distract King from being mean, Lipsha invites him to play poker for cereal pieces. While visiting the Senior Citizens home, Lipsha has learned how to crimp and mark the cards, so he is in complete control of the game. The game is interrupted by a news broadcast that the dangerous criminal Gerry Nanapush has broken out of jail and is on the loose. King and Lynette begin to panic, but Lipsha is excited that his intuition has played itself out.
While they stare at the TV, Gerry enters the apartment through the airshaft. Gerry knows that Lipsha is his son, and Lipsha is instantly fascinated by his father. Gerry quickly tells Lipsha that King had betrayed his plans to escape and that he’d come to get revenge on King. Gerry, King and Lipsha agree to a game of cards, with June’s car as the stakes. King does not want to lose the car, but agrees to it because he is afraid of Gerry. Lynette and Howard hide in the other room while the card game unfolds, with Lipsha dealing a stacked hand. Immediately, he asks King for the keys and offers to drive Gerry anywhere he wants to go.
At that moment, the police pound on the door. By the time they are inside, Gerry has vanished. Lipsha leaves and drives away in his new, red car. After driving for a while, a strange noise starts up in the back, and he eventually pulls over and finds Gerry in the trunk. They talk about June and Gerry, and finally Lipsha tells him that he’s running from the army police. Gerry whoops and tells him he has nothing to worry about, that he has a bad heart and it’s genetic. So Lipsha drops Gerry off at the border and drives his mother’s—June’s—car home to Grandma Kashpaw.
This final chapter in the novel focuses on Lipsha’s discovery that his parents are Gerry and June. Furthermore, Lipsha, unlike so many other characters in the novel who remain passive or choose to avoid facing hard truths, seeks out confrontation with his newfound knowledge by initiating contact with his father. Many of the characters are defined as much by what they do not say as much as what they do say; evasion and avoidance of the truth are running themes in the characters’ behavior.
However, in this chapter Lipsha is proactive. He finds King and Lynette on the very night that Gerry once again breaks out of prison. Even better, during the card game, Lipsha manages to position himself so that he can offer something to Gerry so that they can spend time together. By winning June’s car, he is able to drive Gerry to the border, and however briefly and symbolically, he can be with his parents for a short time. Lipsha even receives confirmation that he is Gerry’s son when Gerry tells Lipsha he has inherited a genetic heart defect.
The other focal points of this chapter are Howard and King. King has been shown to be a violent, unpredictable, shifty character, and Howard’s fear and hatred of him further emphasizes that point. Lipsha, from the moment of meeting Howard, feels sorry for him and identifies with him because he, too, was tormented by King. This alternate family situation contrasts with Lipsha’s newfound family. King’s family is marked by violence and distrust, while Lipsha’s new relationship with Gerry is caring and forgiving. Lipsha helps Gerry to escape prison, and Gerry helps Lipsha to escape the military police; they treat each other as equals and friends, not as obligations. Howard’s hatred of his ever-present father can then be contrasted with Lipsha’s love for his newfound father, who acknowledges him and treats him well.