Summary and Analysis Chapters 8 - 10
Lyman Lamartine: Henry Junior’s brother, one of Lulu’s boys.
Gerry Nanapush: Lulu’s son, a prison escapee for most of his (free) life, who is dating Dot Adare.
Dot Adare: A fierce, strong-willed pregnant woman who knits and fights with equal determination and who is dating Gerry.
Officer Lovchik: Town police officer who repeatedly arrests Gerry.
In 1973, Albertine runs away from home by taking a bus to the city. She holds all of her belongings on her lap, wrapped up in a sweater bundle. Since the bus fare took all of her money, she sits in the station until inspiration strikes as to what to do next. The sight of a handsome soldier, possibly an Indian man, inspires her to follow him. At first, she loses him, but the soldier turns out to be Henry Lamartine Junior, and he approaches her.
Albertine's bundle and furtive air remind him of the Vietnamese women he was surrounded by during the Vietnam War. Albertine invites him into a bar, and Henry Junior becomes quite drunk. Then they go to a hotel room, and Albertine hides in the bathroom, unsure what to do. Henry Junior talks to himself in the other room for a while before finally entering the bathroom. There, he confuses her with a Vietnamese woman he had had to interrogate. Albertine recognizes that he is confused, possibly crazy, but does not know where else to go. When she comes out of the bathroom and gets into the bed with him, he holds her down and has sex with her twice. She moves to the edge of the bed but does not leave.
During the night, Albertine touches Henry Junior. He is having a nightmare and reacts violently. She is terrified and crouches on the floor, and he comes to her, weeping.
Lyman narrates chapter nine, which is set in 1974. He has a gift for making money, and with some of his money, he and his brother, Henry Junior, buy a red Oldsmobile convertible. The car is at the center of this chapter’s story.
The brothers drive around the country together having adventures. Once, they even drive all the way to Alaska. This is an idyllic and happy time for both of them. When they return home after their travels, the government forces Henry Junior to make good on his enlistment. Henry Junior becomes a Marine, and Lyman is left in charge of the convertible. He thinks of it as Henry Junior’s car.
When Henry Junior returns, he is irritable and anxious. He watches TV and lashes out unpredictably. In a bid to involve Henry Junior in normal life again, Lyman beats up the red convertible, damaging it as much as he can. When Henry Junior finds it and expresses anger, Lyman dares him to fix it. Henry Junior spends much of the spring doing so, and then they take the convertible for a spin.
They drive down to the flooded river. The swollen waterway is a metaphor, to Lyman, of his brother’s strained state. Lyman grabs Henry Junior and screams at him to wake up, and Henry Junior becomes angry. Henry Junior tiredly confesses that he knew that Lyman had beat up the car, that he knew neither neglect nor heavy driving caused the damage. Henry Junior tries to give Lyman the car, but Lyman refuses it and hits Henry Junior, who fights back. While struggling, they both begin to laugh and then to drink. Henry Junior stands up and begins to dance a wild jig. Then he jumps into the river and is gone. It is unclear if he intends to commit suicide or is too drunk to remember the river is flooded. Lyman jumps in after him, but cannot find him. After giving up, Lyman sends the car into the river, too.
Chapter ten returns to Albertine as narrator. She is working on a construction site with Dot Adare, Gerry Nanapush’s girlfriend. Albertine explains that she sought out Gerry, the Chippewa who couldn’t be contained by white men. She found all three hundred pounds of him in a bar. Eventually Dot and Albertine end up working together in a truck shack weighing trucks.
While working in the close, enclosed space, Albertine becomes quite familiar with the quirks of Gerry and Dot’s...
(The entire section is 1,598 words.)