Jacquie’s character is in flux throughout There There as her regular association with water subtly communicates. She begins her story young and wild, but in the main storyline, she is much older. Recently sober, Jacquie begins the difficult work of confronting difficult events from her past—the suicide of her daughter and her own assault when she was a teen—by returning to Oakland to meet her grandsons. Where in the past she had dulled the pain of these traumatic events with alcohol, she learns how to take charge of her life and move forward, rather than merely float along. Jacquie confronts her demons directly when she runs into Harvey, the man who assaulted her. Her character development is mirrored in the plot as she travels from Phoenix to Oakland for the powwow, where she plans to reunite with her grandsons and her sister, Opal.
Learning to forgive is key to Jacquie’s development as a character, both forgiving herself for her failures and forgiving others for the harm they have done to her. By setting one of Opal’s key scenes in an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting and drawing on the established practices of the group, Orange indicates that self-acceptance and forgiveness are crucial for Jacquie’s transformation.