The Round House Discussion Questions

Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

''The Round House'' is a novel by Louise Erdrich, that deals in mature and intense themes. As such, it is best for older students. These questions can help your students work through the themes and plot of this award-winning novel.

The Round House

The Round House is a 2012 novel by award-winning author Louise Erdrich. The story is noted for its compelling plot and complicated perspectives on justice and community. As with most of Erdrich's work, it is set on a Native American reservation. It will not be hard to get students interested in this novel, but be aware that it deals in themes of sexual violence, racism, murder, and systemic injustices. These questions can help your students work through these mature themes, as well as the literary structure and meaning of the novel.

Questions about Plot and Characters

  • In your own words, can you describe the plot of The Round House? What is this novel about?
  • Who is the main character in The Round House? Who is the narrator? In the most obvious way, the narrator and main character are the same person, but in what way are they different? How has age changed Joe?
  • Is Joe Coutts a reliable narrator? How do we know? How does the novel try to convince us that he is? Is there any evidence that he might not be?
  • Who are the other important characters in The Round House? How are we introduced to them? What are their personalities and character traits?
  • What are the events that set the plot in motion? How do you think this made Joe feel? Where do we see this in the story?
  • How does the community deal with the rape of Geraldine? How does Bazil (Joe's father) deal with it? How do Joe and his friends deal with it? Why doe Joe and his friends start sleuthing and spying on their own? Who do they spy on? What do they see?
  • Why is Linden Lark identified as a Wendigo? What does that mean? What impact does this have on the community? What impact does it have on the story?
  • How does the central conflict escalate? Where is the climax? How is the conflict resolved? How does the novel end? Why do you think it ends this way? What is the author trying to say?

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