Sharks in the Time of Saviors

by Kawai Strong Washburn

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Chapters 6–11 Summary and Analysis

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Last Updated on February 25, 2021, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1117

Chapter 6

It's 2004, and Dean is in Spokane, Washington, having decided he had to escape the poverty of Hawai'i and the feeling of always being second to his brother. He is at college on a basketball scholarship and working hard, beginning to feel a part of something and no longer able to think of much to say when he calls home and his parents always want to talk about Noa and his perfect SAT scores. Sometimes Malia asks Dean whether Noa speaks to him about his abilities; Dean says he doesn't know if he believes in Noa the way he used to. He wants his parents to see him as a ticket out of poverty, but they remain obsessed with Noa, something Kaui also suffers from. Dean can tell that Kaui, who is still hula-dancing, will soon leave Hawai'i, too.

One evening, a home game happens on "Hawai'ian Night" and Dean feels suffused with power, as if he, too, is a god, and he plays like a king. For several games after that, he is hugely successful, and he acquires a reputation when the games are shown on television. For once, his parents seem interested in him.

Chapter 7

In San Diego, in 2007, Kaui meets Van, an acerbically funny white girl, after a party. Kaui takes cocaine with Van and her friends and feels their friendship was meant to be.

Kaui is studying to be an engineer. The white girls she knows from class don't understand her the way Van does, and nearly everyone in Kaui's classes is male. Kaui is uninterested in the boys, but she is interested to find the Hawaiian students have a hula club where Kaui can dance.

One day, Van, Kaui, and their friends Katarina and Hao drive up north to a grain silo with the intention of climbing it. The danger makes Kaui feel close to her friends. When she calls her parents, she doesn't feel close to them, especially as her father is so concerned with the price of tuition and her mother wants to be sure Kaui isn't just there "to party." She is also always concerned with whether Noa has spoken to Kaui. Kaui feels her parents don't know her anymore, and she misses them less and less.

Chapter 8

In Portland, Oregon, in 2008, Nainoa is a medic. At a party, he uses his powers to revive a man who is almost dead. His coworker, Erin, is amazed, having been sure the man was gone. When she asks what Nainoa did, Nainoa says all he did was follow procedure.

After this incident, Nainoa feels drained. He goes to see his girlfriend, Khadeja, at her office. They have been dating for five months, and Khadeja has a child, Rika, from a previous relationship. She and Nainoa sit on the steps of a statue with a bottle of wine, and he tells her he is connected to things other people can't see. Khadeja remembers that Nainoa has always been connected to animals. It is as if she almost understands.

Chapter 9

In 2008, Kaui doesn't want to come home for summer break. Malia tries to entice her with the promise of engineering jobs in Pearl Harbor, but Kaui says she will find something in San Diego.

She and her friends are now intensely connected, and Kaui doesn't want to have to be alone when they go home. Still, she finds herself a campus office job and a routine, waits tables, and misses Van. Once, Noa calls and asks whether Kaui ever believed in him. He tells her about the addict...

(This entire section contains 1117 words.)

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he revived when it should have been too late. He says that while Kaui can do anything she likes, he can't, and he can't take a break.

Kaui's friends come back, and after a drunken party, Kaui and Van kiss. They don't talk about it.

Chapter 10

By 2008, Dean is working as a parcel loader in Spokane, training for a driving job. He has ended up in this situation because his grades began to slip and he stopped paying attention when playing basketball. He slowed down while playing and began to overeat and party too much, missing Hawai'i, until he had to drop out of college. 

Chapter 11

Portland, 2008. Over the course of his work, Noa saves multiple people who should have died. Eventually Erin suggests he should "tell someone" that he's doing something special to fix their patients. Noa pretends not to understand; Erin says he should be in a war hospital or somewhere he could really help. Noa is angry: Erin can't understand how he feels with all these souls inside him. He doesn't believe he can be something more.

Leaving Erin behind, Noa comes across a dog that is long dead, in rigor mortis. However, he is able to revive it. This leaves him exhausted; he has never revived something so utterly dead. When he arrives at Khadeja's house, he tries to tell her but can't and instead plays the ukulele for Khadeja and Rika.

Life goes on, until in September of that year, a mother thirty-six weeks pregnant and in early labor is engaged in a car accident. Noa asks Erin to stop the ambulance, believing he can save them both and knowing that if they go to hospital, the child will be sacrificed to save the mother. He is unable to save either of them.


These chapters form the first half of the book's second section, entitled "Ascension." In accordance with the title, this section marks the ascension of the three Flores children away from Hawai'i and their childhood and toward what they believe to be greater things. It is clear, however, that the attempts of the three children to grow independently meet with differing levels of success. Dean's basketball fame in particular is short-lived, while Noa continues to struggle with the power inside him. In his partner, Erin, he encounters another person who believes he should be seeking to make use of a gift she has perceived without being told about it, but Noa shrinks from this idea. Even as his powers grow, he feels uncomfortable with the idea of making full use of them. Just as he reaches the peak of his gift to date, in reviving the dog, he suffers a crushing blow: his conviction that perhaps he is able to effect change in the world results in a mother and child dying because he has held back the ambulance. Given Noa’s intense sense of responsibility, the reader can expect that this will have significant effects on Noa and his psyche in future. Meanwhile, Kaui embraces a different lifestyle outside of Hawai'i, but her independence means that she must grow away from her family and her heritage.


Chapters 1–5 Summary and Analysis


Chapters 12–17 Summary and Analysis