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In The Little Hours (2017), the convent's donkey keeps getting out.

The very first scene shows Sister Fernanda (Aubrey Plaza) bringing the donkey back. When she explains this to Sister Ginevra (Kate Micucci), Ginevra is baffled at the donkey's activities and begins speculating neurotically about how it's getting out.

In the final scene of the film, we see that the donkey is once again outside the convent, only this time we know how it got there:

Sister Maria took the donkey to the bridge when she went there to secretly meet now-banished Father Tommasso.

I've always interpreted this as an indication that:

Sister Maria is responsible for the donkey's mysterious excursions.

But on further reflection, this doesn't make sense to me. First, those characters did not need to meet in secret until Bishop Bartolomeo (Fred Armisen) made it necessary near the end of the film.

But even more puzzling: I don't understand why anybody would need to bring a donkey in the first place. What's to stop a person from just walking to that location without a donkey, and then walking back afterwards?

What's going on with this donkey??

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Fernanda is a witch, using the donkey to manufacture an alibi

Per BCdotWEB:

Fernanda is leaving the convent at night, and uses the "escaped" donkey as an excuse if she gets caught returning in the morning.

The question then becomes: why is Fernanda leaving the convent at night?

The answer is that Fernanda belongs to a coven of witches (which is established later, near the film's climax), and so presumably she's been sneaking out at night to participate in their shenanigans.

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