Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 182
The protagonist of The Loons is Piquette Tonnerre. The granddaughter of Jules Tonnerre, a French-Indian settler, she lives in a town of Ukrainian, Scottish, and Irish immigrants. She and her family grapple with the town's racism while working irregular shifts and struggling with the social effects of alcohol abuse.
Piquette's bout of tuberculosis results in her being cared for by Dr. MacLeod and his wife. The MacLeods reject the toxic racism of the town, and try to instill tolerance in their daughter. They take Piquette to their summer cabin on Diamond Lake despite the protests of their extended family who refuse to break from traditions of persecution.
Vanessa MacLeod, the doctor's adolescent daughter, tries to befriend Piquette at the cabin but holds a distorted and romanticized view of Indian identity. She provides a foil to Piquette, who rejects categorization. When Dr. MacLeod dies, they drift apart, meeting again when Piquette is about to marry an Englishman. Vanessa matures somewhat, coming to realize that Piquette had to suffer in order to internalize the norms and desires of the people who rejected her family.