Summary and Analysis Chapters 2 - 3
Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 911
Sister Leopolda: A mean-spirited nun at the convent and Marie’s schoolteacher and nemesis.
Lulu Nanapush: Nector’s serious crush whom he is supposed to meet later that night and who later marries Henry Lamartine.
Chapter two begins with a flashback to 1934 when Marie, who is later to become Grandma Kashpaw, is ready to join the convent of the Sacred Heart. She is fourteen and wants to be a saint, and the convent is her only chance, as she sees it, of escaping the dreariness of reservation life. Her classes with Sister Leopolda have shown Marie that the Sister has an understanding of Satan that gives her purpose and meaning. Marie wants to defeat Sister Leopolda, and so she decides to reach heaven before the Sister. To do this, she walks up the hill to the convent to become a novice.
Sister Leopolda opens the kitchen door and lets Marie in, but when she does, she showers Marie with threats and intimidation. When a cup rolls beneath the hot wood oven, Sister Leopolda claims Satan has entered Marie and holds her down while she pours boiling water onto the young Marie. Marie prays.
After the pain has passed, Marie has a vision of her body turning to gold and her chest becoming encrusted with diamonds. The dream recurs as Sister Leopolda rubs salve onto the burn. The vision causes Marie to yell at the Sister about how the devil is in her, too, and she tries to run away. However, she is too caught up in the conflict to leave it unfinished. When Sister Leopolda returns to the kitchen, they begin to cook, but after a few moments, Marie tries to push the Sister into the oven. She fails, and Sister Leopolda stabs her in the hand with a fork and knocks her out with a blow from a poker.
When Marie wakes, she is swaddled in gauze and is being worshipped. The marks have been explained away as signs of stigmata, not abuse. Marie begins to delight in this lie, until she notices the defeated, whipped-dog look in Sister Leopolda’s eyes. Marie then begins to pity her abuser, and she knows that Sister Leopolda will leave the convent. Marie believes that Sister Leopolda fights Satan so fiercely because Satan loves her and therefore she must fight harder.
Chapter three continues with the flashback and is narrated by Nector. Nector and Eli go bird hunting together. Through his narrations, Nector's love of dancing and girls becomes obvious. While he is walking to the Sacred Heart Convent with the birds he has killed, he meets Lulu, a sexy girl he likes, and he runs into Marie Lazarre, who is barreling down the hill. He sees a Sacred Heart pillowcase wrapped around her arm and accuses her of stealing. She is a Lazarre, and the family has a reputation of being no-good drunks. In the ensuing fight, the little white girl almost defeats Nector, but he manages to pin her down with the help of the weight of the birds.
Marie laughs at Nector for wanting to return the pillowcase to the nuns, and while he is holding her down, she begins to writhe against him. They have sex while he holds her down, and although she instigates it and insults him afterwards, Nector fears how it would be perceived, since they are on an unsheltered hillside, in plain view. She laughs at him again, and he accuses her of forcing him to have sex with her. At that, she laughs again and drops the pillowcase from her hand, revealing an ugly wound in her palm. He realizes no one would believe that a wounded girl physically overwhelmed him, and he would be blamed for any rape.
The sight of her hand touches Nector, and he thinks of her like a wounded animal that needs help. He offers her the birds, takes her uninjured hand, and walks her home. Nector fails to meet Lulu because of this altercation with Marie.
Marie is later to become Grandma Kashpaw, just as Nector will become Grandpa Kashpaw. Chapter two illustrates Marie’s fierce determination and strong will to escape the negative reputation of her family, the Lazarres. At first, Marie thinks that the convent will provide that escape. She wants the power and strength of knowing Satan and of having clothes that set her apart. But Sister Leopolda’s lies and the way Marie is worshipped as a result of her abuse forces the young girl to reject that idea. She sees that the convent is not a place of purity, but is as confused as the rest of the world.
Nector has no such notions in his mind. He is a carefree and happy young man on his way to a date with the very sexy Lulu. However, his mistake in accusing Marie of stealing reveals to him that things are not as simple as they may appear. Just because she is a Lazarre, and just because she is running, that does not mean that she is a thief. Having sex with her is a total surprise to him, as is the wound in her hand. Marie shows him new truths, ones he had not expected, and she is also in pain and hurt. Nector feels bound to her not only because he has seen something new in her presence, but also because he can help to mitigate her pain.