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Summary: Chapter 6: Datalore

Judge Coutts can’t help talking to Joe about the case. He asks Joe to help him interview Linda Wishkob. She meets them in a café, but they only talk about the weather. Later that day, Cappy and Joe play a video game at Joe’s house. Linda Wishkob appears at the door. She watches them silently as they play, and then she goes upstairs to visit Geraldine. The next day, Linda visits again, this time bringing Geraldine a loaf of banana bread. 

Joe and Judge Coutts persuade Linda to talk about herself. She explains that when she was born, she had a congenital deformity that caused her head to be misshapen, so Grace Lark, her birth mother, chose to let her die. Betty Wishkob, a janitor at a local hospital, took Linda in, and Betty and her husband lovingly raised Linda as their own. Fifty years later, Grace Lark contacted Linda to persuade her to donate a kidney to her cruel, violent twin brother, Linden. Linda nearly died after the kidney transplant. Although they opposed her actions, Linda’s Wishkob siblings have stood by her through all her ordeals. Geraldine has helped her too. Linda admits she made a terrible mistake by helping Linden because Linden has done terrible things.

Analysis: Chapter 6: Datalore

Erdrich continues with duality as a motif in Chapter 6, which is titled “Datalore.” “Datalore” is a reference to an episode of the same title from Star Trek: The Next Generation in which a character, Data, discovers his sinister duplicate named Lore. Erdrich invokes this allusion as she introduces another new white character who epitomizes duality. In Linda Wishkob/Lark’s case, her duality is external. She is a white woman raised in a Native American family, and she is the kind sister to a horrible biological twin brother. Linda becomes the novel’s narrator for a brief section of this chapter that is set apart and subtitled “Linda’s Story.” This shift draws attention to the importance of what she has to say in relation to the main plot. In her own words, Linda describes how her birth parents wanted to let her die at birth due to mild physical deformities. In contrast to this cruel act, a Native American woman who worked at the hospital nursed her and tended to her, thus keeping Linda alive and improving her health. Linda’s adoptive family is kind and loving, while on the other side of the coin the Lark family is cruel and bitter. Linda’s twin, Linden, is an equally horrible person. Linda’s regret in donating her kidney to save his life implies Linden’s capability for extreme violence. This devil to Linda’s angel further strengthens the idea that he is the attacker.