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Summary: Chapter 8: Hide and Q—Part 1

In an attempt to get Geraldine to talk about the attack, Judge Coutts and Joe start eating dinner in her room. Judge Coutts tells stories, and Joe reports on his new job at Whitey and Sonja’s gas station, but his mother will not say a word. When Judge Coutts shares the news that Curtis Yeltow, a corrupt and racist politician, wants to adopt a Native American child whose mother is missing, Geraldine finally breaks her silence. She tells them about Mayla Wolfskin, a young Native American woman who had been trying to enroll her baby in their tribe. Mayla had called Geraldine in a panic and begged her to bring her baby’s enrollment file to her, but when Geraldine arrived, a sack was thrown over her head, and she was dragged away and raped. After the attack, the sack was removed, and Geraldine found herself in the round house with Mayla, who was also tied up, her baby crawling nearby.

The attacker was also present and alternated between screaming at Mayla and saying that he loved her. He then poured gasoline on Mayla and Geraldine, and when he left to get matches, Geraldine managed to escape. Out of fear for Mayla and her child, Geraldine still refuses to name her attacker. Judge Coutts takes his exhausted wife to the hospital, and Joe stays with Whitey and Sonja. When Joe notices that Sonja is wearing diamond earrings and new clothing, Sonja admits to Joe that she took money from the doll. But Whitey thinks his wife got the earrings from a man, and he beats her badly. Joe quits his job.

Summary: Chapter 8: Hide and Q—Part 2

Joe stays with Aunt Clemence and Uncle Edward. He sleeps in the same room as Mooshum, who talks in his sleep. While asleep, Mooshum recounts an old story about Akii, a woman accused by her husband of being a wiindigoo, a person possessed by an animal. Her son, Nanapush, refuses to obey his father’s order to kill Akii. Nanapush and his mother escape. Nanapush hunts the last remaining buffalo, and the buffalo gives her life to keep Nanapush and his mother alive. 

Geraldine comes home and tries to resume her life. Joe and his friends go swimming at the lake. They encounter a church youth group and decide to join them after catching sight of Zelia, a beautiful Mexican girl. Cappy and Zelia immediately fall in love.  Later, Judge Coutts tells Joe that Geraldine’s rapist is under arrest. Unfortunately, because Geraldine can’t remember exactly where the attack happened, it is not known which court has jurisdiction over the case. Zack arrives with exciting news: searchers found Mayla Wolfskin’s car in the lake. The boys bike over to watch. As the car rises out of the water, Joe sees a scrap of cloth inside—a scrap that matches the doll.

Analysis: Chapter 8: Hide and Q—Part 1 & Part 2

Furthering the thematic elements surrounding Chippewa tradition and religion and the motif of duality, this chapter features yet another subtitled section seemingly set apart from Joe’s main narrative. In a section subtitled “Akii,” Mooshum tells Joe a tale in his sleep about their elder Nanapush. Here, Nanapush’s mother Akii is accused of a horrific transformation from a human into a wiindigoo, a person who has transformed into a beast with the carnivorous taste for human flesh. But in this case the duality is not real. Nanapush’s father falsely accuses Akii of her heinous transformation, and she survives the attempts to kill her. The story also serves as another example of men attacking women and how women and wise men, such as Nanapush and Mooshum, connect to their culture in order to find the right path forward in their lives. By setting the story of Akii apart from Joe’s ongoing narration, Erdrich emphasizes its importance in relation to the novel’s themes of tradition and of misogyny.

Erdrich further explores the motif of relationships between men and women. In doing so, she explores relationships ranging from the horrible to the idyllic. The worst end of the spectrum is shown in the story of Nanapush’s mother, whose husband tried to have her killed when he simply tired of her. Also terrible is the relationship between the attacker and a young Native American girl, Mayla. Geraldine describes the attacker as someone obsessed with Mayla who claims to love her. However, Mayla instead ended up in a relationship with a politician and had his baby. The jealous and entitled attacker threatens and beats Mayla in revenge. Sonja and Uncle Whitey’s relationship equally disturbs Joe. At first, they seem to get along well. But Whitey is overcome with jealousy at Sonja’s newfound fortune, and he insults and beats her terribly. Joe tries to help her but is so upset by what he witnesses that he quits his job. The fact that others in the community seem to be aware of Whitey’s tendency toward domestic abuse is also disturbing. By presenting examples of misogyny through the story of wiindigoo justice, Mayla’s attack by a white man, and Whitey’s domestic abuse, Erdrich demonstrates that misogyny is not an isolated phenomenon but a rampant disease present in society.

This chapter includes some important developments that advance the driving plot. Joe realizes that the doll full of money he found in the previous chapter came from Mayla’s car. The doll is a now a clue toward what happened to Mayla and Geraldine and why. The money also leads to a conflict between Uncle Whitey and Sonja. Furthermore, when Geraldine hears that Mayla’s baby is safe, she is finally able to tell Joe and Judge Coutts about her experience. In fact, Geraldine was silent in the first place in the hopes of protecting Mayla’s baby. By telling her story, Geraldine can attempt to restore normality to her life, but she will never be the same. Although she is out of bed, she is now a changed person. She can never be the Geraldine she was before the attack.