According to Mr. P, Mary is the only student at Wellpinit who was smarter and showed more promise than Junior. For Junior, Mr. P’s revelation comes as a shock because Mary has spent the years since graduating from high school sleeping the day away in the family basement. Mary wanted to be a romance novelist—another fact Junior learns from Mr. P—but she does little to work toward that goal. Junior believes that Mary got up one day and married the Montana Indian she met at the casino because she felt pressured to do more with her life as a result of his decision to leave the reservation. But Junior never brings himself to say that Mary’s decision to leave for Montana was rushed and reckless where his decision to study in Reardan was steady and responsible. In Mary’s messages to Junior—her email and letter—Mary’s unflagging optimism masks the growing difficulty and despair of her jobless new life in a trailer far from home. Mary’s early death shows how damning the despair of life on Indian reservations can be even for extremely talented and intelligent people.