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Summary: Chapter 7: Angel One

Joe spends a morning watching Mooshum, his elderly grandfather, who lives with Aunt Clemence and Uncle Edward. Joe tells Mooshum about the silver-haired man whom he and Randall have seen. Mooshum advises Joe to consult the Ajijaak, his father’s crane clan. Joe bikes to the lake and spots a heron. Then Joe looks down and sees a doll at the bottom of the lake. He retrieves the doll and discovers that it’s stuffed with cash. Joe quickly bikes to Uncle Whitey’s gas station and shows the doll to Sonja, who immediately takes charge of the situation. She and Joe divide the cash—which totals more than $40,000—into small envelopes, then drive around depositing the money into various banks. Sonja swears Joe to secrecy and warns Joe that he might now be in danger. 

Joe bikes home to find Judge Coutts talking to Soren Bjerke, the FBI agent working on Geraldine’s case. Joe reminds the men about the file his mother has (although she is now denying that she has it), and insists that they look for it. Judge Coutts demands that Joe tell him everything. Joe confesses to drinking beer by the round house but says nothing about the money he found.

Analysis: Chapter 7: Angel One

This section strengthens the themes of tradition and religion through a conversation between Joe and his elderly grandfather Mooshum. Mooshum may drink and womanize, but he still represents a deep connection to the reservation’s Chippewa beliefs. Mooshum is able to provide insight into the ghost Joe saw earlier in the book, and his advice is treated seriously despite the character’s often comical treatment. Although a link to the past, Mooshum is still part of Joe’s current life. After Joe tells him about the spirit he saw, Mooshum sends him to ask his father’s crane doodem, or spirit, in order to find his luck. Once again, Joe’s ancestral connections lead him to a new discovery. The fact that the doodem leads Joe to the doll signifies that while Erdrich sometimes leans into the humorous side of religion, she still takes the characters’ religious experiences seriously.