Added: August 6, 2016 – Last updated: August 6, 2016


Author: Lýdia Rezničáková

Title: “Maze of Injustice”

Subtitle: Interracial Rape in Louise Erdrich’s The Round House

Thesis: Master Thesis, Masarykovy univerzity (Masaryk University)

Advisor: Martina Horáková

Year: 2016

Pages: 75pp.

Language: English

Keywords: Modern History: 21st Century | American History: U.S. History | Representations: Literary Texts / Louise Erdrich; Types: Interracial Rape


Link: Informační Systém Masarykovy Univerzity (Masaryk University Information System) (Free Access)



The aim of this thesis is to explore a few selected phenomena that can be found in The Round House by Louise Erdrich with special focus on the portrayal of interracial rape and on the issues surrounding sexual violence that are specific to Native experience. To anchor the thesis in a wider context, it frequently refers to other novels by Erdrich in which she also depicted rape and as an attack on a Native women’s ethnic background, The Bingo Palace, Tracks and Love Medicine and The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse in particular.
Chapter 1 offers Erdrich’s biographic sketch and the overview of her fiction. To provide the theoretical framework, the tenets of Native American feminism are explored. Erdrich’s handling of narrative techniques, her tendencies to opt for multiple narrative voices and avoidance of the victim’s focalization are examined in Chapter 2.
Chapter 3 focuses on the interracial rape between Native American woman and non-Native perpetrators. The discussion of Erdrich’s previous depiction of the rape in Tracks and The Bingo Palace is followed by a thorough analysis of the sexual abuse in The Round House where Geraldine Coutts, a Native American woman is raped by Linden Lark, a white man. First, the attention is given to the pieces of the US legislation that created the jurisdictional entanglement that diminished tribal authorities and which allowed for almost impossible prosecution of white rapists for crimes committed on tribal land. Then, it establishes Geraldine’s ethnicity as the main factor that her perpetrator consciously abuses. Lark intentionally creates confusion as it is unclear which jurisdiction, tribal, state or federal, should lead investigation and as a result the case is not tried at all.
Chapter 4 points out the severe consequences of the attack not only on Geraldine as a direct victim but also on her husband Bazil and son Joe. In this way, it demonstrate the centrality of woman within Native family and society, as it is Geraldine’s disempowerment that causes the destruction of well-being of the whole family.
Chapter 5, again, firstly looks upon Erdrich’s previous novel Tracks where she already attributed curing and shamanistic properties to language and talking as a way of recovery from trauma. Then the attention is given to shamanistic powers of Linda Wishkob, who with her talking triggers Geraldine’s healing. In this respect, she is reminiscent of Fleur Pillager in Tracks. Linda selflessly and emphatically helps Geraldine to recover. The thesis is closed by the deduction that because Erdrich portrays the Coutts family members as resilient fighters against their mistreatment, The Round House is not only a story of victimization, but, first and for most, a story of resistance.« (Source: Thesis)


  Acknowledgement (p. 5)
  Introduction (p. 6)
  1. Louise Erdrich and Native American Feminism (p. 10)
    1.1. Louise Erdrich (p. 10)
    1.2. Native American Feminism (p. 15)
  2. Narration in The Round House: A Political Act (p. 23)
  3. The Rape of Geraldine Coutts in The Round House (p. 28)
    3.1. Rape in Erdrich's Fiction (p. 28)
    3.2. The Rape in The Round House (p. 31)
      3.2.1. “Maze of Injustice”: Failure to Protect Native Women (p. 33)
      3.2.2. Geraldine's Ethnicity and Linden Lark (p. 36)
  4. The Rape: (Temporal) Disempowerment of Geraldine (p. 40)
    4.1. Geraldine as a Powerful Native American Woman (p. 40)
    4.2. The Impact of the Rape on the Family (p. 45)
  5. Healing and Resistance (p. 50)
    5.1. The Power of Talking (p. 50)
    5.2. The Character of Linda Wishkob as a Healer (p. 54)
    5.3. Endurance (p. 58)
  Conclusion (p. 63)
  Bibliography (p. 66)
  Resumé (p. 74)
  Summary (p. 74)

Wikipedia: History of the Americas: History of the United States / History of the United States (1991–present) | Literature: American literature | 21st-century American writers: Louise Erdrich / The Round House (novel)