This chapter is particularly different from every other chapter in the book. Instead of your typical writing style, Egan presents this story in the form of a slide show presentation from the perspective of Alison Blake, Sasha’s 12 year old daughter. Through the slides, the reader receives insights and thoughts from Alison that might have been hidden if it weren’t told from her perspective. The graphical representations and charts show Alison’s thought and relationships between her and each of her family members.
A main theme in this story is the concept of one’s past effecting them throughout their entire adult life. As we know, Sasha presumably regrets some of the choices she made during her adolescent life. Because her past is somewhat treacherous and hard to speak about, she ignores Alison’s question and says that it was “like another life”, “all so subdued with [her] own struggles”, or that she “doesn’t trust her own memories”.
This unanswered question creates a wall between Alison and her mother. A blind spot, almost. Alison knows her mother’s past is harsh and maybe even a bit embarrassing at times, but she finds this to be a block in their relationship. Because of this, Alison finds her mother annoying, repetitive, and cliché. Alison says that “[her] mother, Sasha, is [her] first victim” to annoy. Clearly, the mother-daughter relationship has declined. Along with this, Sasha tends to favor her dad much more than her mother. She says, “I want to stay here forever with Dad” while the two of them are walking through the desert.
While Sasha’s past from 20+ years ago still haunts her, it creates a barrier between her and her daughter, forcing a divide between Alison and Sasha and making Alison favor her father, while putting her mother in her crosshairs as a target to annoy.