Summary

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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 234

The Round House by Louise Erdrich is about a boy named Objibwe Joe Coutts, who must fight for justice after an unfortunate event completely changes his family. The story starts with Joe and his father, Antone Bazil Coutts, working on their house whose foundation is being weakened by spreading tree roots. Bazil is a law-abiding citizen. One day, his wife, Geraldine Coutts, is assaulted and sexually abused. The ordeal leaves her shaken and confused to the point that she isolates herself from her family. The story focuses on the search for the perpetrator of the crime.

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The novel has supernatural themes. For instance, ghosts appear in the narrative. Joe finds himself face-to-face with one. His father has had a similar experience, and other characters in the novel have had encounters with ghosts as well.

The author gives the reader a glimpse into Joe’s social life. He has a close friend called Cappy against whom he sees the world differently. In the end of the book, Cappy and Joe are driving to Montana to see Cappy's girlfriend when they get into an accident. Cappy dies.

The reader also comes to see the significance of the round house- as a spiritual place on the reservation- in its relevance to the story. Geraldine was assaulted there, and the novel ties together themes of crimes, criminality, depression, spirituality, and the close and complicated ties within the reservation.

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Themes