Orphan Train

Orphan Train

Lois Byrne Character Analysis

Lois Byrne is Vivian/Niamh’s first adoptive mother. She is stern, cold, and controlling. She and her husband, Mr. Byrne, own a ladies’ garment business run out of their home in Albans, Minnesota. Mrs. Byrne dislikes Vivian/Niamh, who she renames “Dorothy,” and makes it clear from the beginning that she doesn’t want to play the role of her mother. After several months, Mrs. Byrne kicks Vivian/Niamh out. Mrs. Byrne has a mental breakdown after the Depression forces her and her husband’s business to go bankrupt. She dies after walking into a snowstorm not long after.

Lois Byrne Quotes in Orphan Train

The Orphan Train quotes below are all either spoken by Lois Byrne or refer to Lois Byrne. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Belonging and Connection Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the William Morrow edition of Orphan Train published in 2013.
Chapter 1 Quotes

“For goodness’ sake, Raymond, it doesn’t matter what she thinks,” Mrs. Byrne snaps as she opens her car door. “Dorothy is our choice, and Dorothy she will be.”

Related Characters: Vivian Daly / Niamh Power / “Dorothy” (speaker), Raymond Byrne, Lois Byrne
Page Number: 72
Explanation and Analysis:

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I keep forgetting to answer to Dorothy. But in a way I am glad to have a new identity. It makes it easier to let go of so much else. I’m not the same Niamh who left her Gram and aunties and uncles in Kinvara and came across the ocean on the Agnes Pauline, who lived with her family on Elizabeth Street. No, I am Dorothy now.

Related Characters: Vivian Daly / Niamh Power / “Dorothy” (speaker), Gram, Raymond Byrne, Lois Byrne
Page Number: 98
Explanation and Analysis:

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I feel myself retreating to someplace deep inside. It is a pitiful kind of childhood, to know that no one loves you or is taking care of you, to always be on the outside looking in. I feel a decade older than my years. I know too much; I have seen people at their worst, at their most desperate and selfish, and this knowledge makes me wary. So I am learning to pretend, to smile and nod, to display empathy I do not feel. I am learning to pass, to look like everyone else, even though I feel broken inside.

Related Characters: Vivian Daly / Niamh Power / “Dorothy” (speaker), Raymond Byrne, Lois Byrne, Mr. Sorenson
Page Number: 112
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Lois Byrne Character Timeline in Orphan Train

The timeline below shows where the character Lois Byrne appears in Orphan Train. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 11: Albans, Minnesota, 1929
Belonging and Connection Theme Icon
Self and Identity Theme Icon
Trauma and Loss Theme Icon
...change her name to “Dorothy.” Mr. Byrne asks Niamh if she likes the name, but Mrs. Byrne interrupts, telling her husband “it doesn’t matter what she thinks.” Their home and lawn are... (full context)
Chapter 12: Albans, Minnesota, 1929
Belonging and Connection Theme Icon
Self and Identity Theme Icon
Trauma and Loss Theme Icon
Hope and Skepticism Theme Icon
Mrs. Byrne introduces Niamh (as “Dorothy”) to the women in the room, all of whom are sitting... (full context)
Belonging and Connection Theme Icon
Self and Identity Theme Icon
Safety and Survival Theme Icon
Secrets, Reality, and Illusions Theme Icon
...ignore Mary. She quietly asks Niamh whether the Byrnes are paying her, but just then, Mrs. Byrne appears in the stairwell. She asks what the commotion is about. Fanny feigns frustration with... (full context)
Belonging and Connection Theme Icon
Safety and Survival Theme Icon
Secrets, Reality, and Illusions Theme Icon
Hope and Skepticism Theme Icon
After dinner, Mrs. Byrne tells Niamh that there is a pallet for her to roll out every night in... (full context)
Chapter 15: Albans, Minnesota, 1929
Self and Identity Theme Icon
Safety and Survival Theme Icon
Secrets, Reality, and Illusions Theme Icon
Hope and Skepticism Theme Icon
...cheerfully takes special care getting dressed for school. At breakfast, she asks Mr. Byrne and Mrs. Byrne how to get to the schoolhouse and what time she is expected. They glance at... (full context)
Belonging and Connection Theme Icon
Self and Identity Theme Icon
Safety and Survival Theme Icon
Trauma and Loss Theme Icon
Secrets, Reality, and Illusions Theme Icon
As the days pass, Niamh becomes curious about what Mrs. Byrne “does with her time” besides coming in often to manage the seamstresses. Mrs. Byrne continues... (full context)
Belonging and Connection Theme Icon
Secrets, Reality, and Illusions Theme Icon
Hope and Skepticism Theme Icon
One day, Mrs. Byrne tells “Dorothy” that she’s heard from Mary that she is misbehaving. Niamh contests that it... (full context)
Belonging and Connection Theme Icon
Self and Identity Theme Icon
Hope and Skepticism Theme Icon
...wears only the two dresses she was given by the Children’s Aid society. One day, Mrs. Byrne expresses concern for Niamh’s limited wardrobe. She decides to take her shopping for “sturdy and... (full context)
Chapter 16: Albans, Minnesota, 1929-1930
Belonging and Connection Theme Icon
Safety and Survival Theme Icon
Trauma and Loss Theme Icon
One day, Mrs. Byrne comes into the sewing room and announces that the stock market has crashed. She bemoans... (full context)
Belonging and Connection Theme Icon
Safety and Survival Theme Icon
Trauma and Loss Theme Icon
Secrets, Reality, and Illusions Theme Icon
Hope and Skepticism Theme Icon
As the weeks pass, Niamh grows very thin from malnourishment. Mrs. Byrne stops bathing and changing her clothes. One by one, she fires each of the seamstresses,... (full context)
Chapter 30: Hemingford, Minnesota, 1930-1931
Belonging and Connection Theme Icon
Self and Identity Theme Icon
Safety and Survival Theme Icon
Trauma and Loss Theme Icon
...He tells her that after the business busted, Fanny left to live with her daughter. Mrs. Byrne wandered into the snow one day and froze to death miles from their home. Niamh... (full context)