Orphan Train

Orphan Train

Wilma Grote Character Analysis

Wilma Grote is Vivian/Niamh’s second adoptive mother. She lives with her husband Gerald in a shack in the woods outside of Hemingford, Minnesota in the late 1920s. They have four children, and Mrs. Grote becomes pregnant again during “Dorothy’s” time living with them. Mrs. Grote is depressed and irritable, and sleeps all day. She doesn’t seem to like her children. She takes little interest in “Dorothy,” who she expects to take over the work of caring for her home and children. She kicks “Dorothy” out after she discovers her husband trying to rape her.
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Wilma Grote Character Timeline in Orphan Train

The timeline below shows where the character Wilma 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
...takes Niamh into the house, where they find a three-year-old girl, Mabel. Eventually, a grumpy Mrs. Grote emerges. The woman appears exhausted. She explains that her husband just lost his job at... (full context)
Chapter 18: Hemingford Country, Minnesota, 1930
Belonging and Connection Theme Icon
Safety and Survival Theme Icon
Trauma and Loss Theme Icon
...and old blankets. The house has no running water or electricity. Niamh soon realizes that Wilma Grote barely gets out of bed and that she and Mr. Grote pay little attention to... (full context)
Chapter 22: Hemingford County, Minnesota, 1930
Safety and Survival Theme Icon
Trauma and Loss Theme Icon
...his father and how he ran away from home. He tells her that he and Mrs. Grote married after having several children on accident, and that he would rather spend his life... (full context)
Belonging and Connection Theme Icon
Self and Identity Theme Icon
Safety and Survival Theme Icon
Trauma and Loss Theme Icon
...dark hair ever again and was careful to keep her children clean. Reluctantly, Niamh tells Mrs. Grote , who instantly accuses Niamh of bringing the lice. For hours, Niamh boils water and... (full context)
Chapter 23: Hemingford County, Minnesota, 1930
Safety and Survival Theme Icon
Trauma and Loss Theme Icon
...become aloof and angry. When Baby Nettie cries, Mr. Grote shakes her until she “whimpers.” Mrs. Grote is also pregnant again, and Niamh hopes that she won’t be responsible for delivering the... (full context)
Safety and Survival Theme Icon
Trauma and Loss Theme Icon
Secrets, Reality, and Illusions Theme Icon
...stay quiet. He undresses and molests her. He tries to rape her, but just then, Mrs. Grote comes into the living room. She yells, calling her husband an “animal”—but she blames Niamh... (full context)