Orphan Train

Orphan Train

Gerald Grote Character Analysis

Gerald Grote is Vivian/Niamh’s second adoptive father. He lives with his wife Wilma in a shack in the woods outside of Hemingford, Minnesota in the late 1920s. They have four children. Like his wife, Gerald doesn’t want his children and frequently neglects them. He enjoys hunting, fishing, and farming, and tries to live a self-sustaining life so that he doesn’t have to have a job. He takes an inappropriate interest in Vivian/Niamh (called “Dorothy” at the time), and ultimately tries to rape her.
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Gerald Grote Character Timeline in Orphan Train

The timeline below shows where the character Gerald Grote appears in Orphan Train. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 17: Hemingford County, Minnesota, 1930
Safety and Survival Theme Icon
Secrets, Reality, and Illusions Theme Icon
Hope and Skepticism Theme Icon
...in school. Mrs. Grotes hesitates, and Niamh hopes she “won’t have to stay.” But then Mr. Grote walks in and quickly agrees to send Niamh to school. He signs the papers, and... (full context)
Chapter 18: Hemingford Country, Minnesota, 1930
Belonging and Connection Theme Icon
Safety and Survival Theme Icon
Trauma and Loss Theme Icon
On her first night, Mr. Grote tells Niamh (still going by “Dorothy”) she can either sleep with the children or on... (full context)
Self and Identity Theme Icon
Safety and Survival Theme Icon
Mr. Grote tells Niamh that his goal is to be “self-sufficient” so that he doesn’t have to... (full context)
Belonging and Connection Theme Icon
Self and Identity Theme Icon
Safety and Survival Theme Icon
At first, the food Mr. Grote brings home disgusts Niamh: lots of squirrel meat and some “whiskery” fish, wild turkeys, and... (full context)
Chapter 22: Hemingford County, Minnesota, 1930
Safety and Survival Theme Icon
Trauma and Loss Theme Icon
Mr. Grote ’s hunting isn’t going well and there is a shortage of food. One day, he... (full context)
Belonging and Connection Theme Icon
Self and Identity Theme Icon
Safety and Survival Theme Icon
Trauma and Loss Theme Icon
...Niamh boils water and washes the sheets while Mrs. Grote sits and directs her. When Mr. Grote comes home, Niamh hears them argue, with Mrs. Grote yelling phrases like “dirty Irish bog-trotter.”... (full context)
Chapter 23: Hemingford County, Minnesota, 1930
Safety and Survival Theme Icon
Trauma and Loss Theme Icon
By fall, Mr. Grote is having better “luck” with hunting and providing meat. Yet he has also become aloof... (full context)
Safety and Survival Theme Icon
Trauma and Loss Theme Icon
Secrets, Reality, and Illusions Theme Icon
One night, Mr. Grote comes into the children’s bedroom and motions for Niamh to come out. She follows, wrapped... (full context)
Chapter 24: Hemingford County, Minnesota, 1930
Belonging and Connection Theme Icon
Self and Identity Theme Icon
Safety and Survival Theme Icon
Trauma and Loss Theme Icon
Hope and Skepticism Theme Icon
...happened.” Niamh tells her the truth about everything, from the Grotes’ uncared for children to Mr. Grote ’s violation. Miss Larsen holds Niamh’s hand the entire time. Afterward, Miss Larsen makes tea... (full context)