The Round House

Geraldine Character Analysis

Geraldine is a Chippewa woman whose brutal rape catalyzes the events of the novel. Joe's mother and Bazil's wife, Geraldine is a tribal record keeper who is widely considered to be smart, beautiful, and highly competent; a good worker, mother, and wife. Geraldine's rape changes her, however, leaving her jumpy, lethargic, and constantly afraid. Geraldine rarely leaves her room in the weeks that follow the rape and she refuses to give up information about her rapist, Linden Lark, for fear of endangering herself and Mayla, a woman that Linden has kidnapped and threatened to kill. As Geraldine's experience renders her unable to mother Joe, her absence also catapults Joe into adulthood. Although Joe and Bazil try to help Geraldine, Geraldine feels that they are unable to understand her pain, suggesting the limits of men's understanding of the effects of gendered violence. Geraldine's rape exemplifies the real-life sexual assault patterns that plague many Native reservations.

Geraldine Quotes in The Round House

The The Round House quotes below are all either spoken by Geraldine or refer to Geraldine. 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:
Women, Bigotry, and Sexual Violence Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Harper Perennial edition of The Round House published in 2013.
Chapter 2 Quotes

We were not churchgoers. This was our ritual. Our breaking bread, our communion… But now they stood staring at each other helplessly over the broken dish… If we'd sat down together that night, I do believe things would have gone on… Anything would have been better than the frozen suspension of feeling in which she mounted the stairs… My father and I had followed her to the doorway, and I think as we watched her we both had the sense that she was ascending to a place of utter loneliness from which she might never be retrieved.

Related Characters: Joe Coutts (speaker), Geraldine, Bazil
Page Number: 43
Explanation and Analysis:
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We read with a concentrated intensity. My father had become convinced that somewhere within his bench briefs, memos, summaries, and decisions lay the identity of the man whose act had nearly severed my mother’s spirit from her body.

Related Characters: Joe Coutts (speaker), Geraldine, Bazil
Page Number: 45
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Chapter 5 Quotes

Now you listen to me, Joe. You will not badger me or harass me. You will leave me to think the way I want to think, here. I have to heal any way I can. You will stop asking questions and you will not give me any worry. You will not go after him. You will not terrify me, Joe. I’ve had enough fear for my whole life. You will not add to my fear. You will not add to my sorrows. You will not be part of this… All of this… It is all a violation.

Related Characters: Geraldine (speaker), Joe Coutts, Linden Lark
Page Number: 89-90
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I should have told you I am proud of you… But do you understand that if something should happen to you, Joe, that your mother and I would … we couldn't bear it. You give us life…
You gave me life, I said. That’s how it's supposed to work. So let me do what I want with it! I ran for my bike…He tried to catch at me with his arms but I swerved at the last moment and put on a burst of speed that put me out of his reach.

Related Characters: Joe Coutts (speaker), Bazil (speaker), Geraldine
Page Number: 93-94
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 7 Quotes

Now the crane Mom used to watch, or its offspring, flapped slowly past my window. That evening it cast the image not of itself but of an angel on my wall…Through some refraction of brilliance the wings arched up from the slender body. Then the feathers took fire so the creature was consumed by light.

Related Characters: Joe Coutts (speaker), Geraldine
Page Number: 148
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Chapter 8 Quotes

I suppose I am one of those people who just hates Indians generally… my feeling is that Indian women are—what he called us, I don't want to say… He said we have no standing under the law for a good reason and yet have continued to diminish the white man and to take his honor… I won't get caught, he said… I know as much law as a judge. Know any judges? I have no fear… The strong should rule the weak. Instead of the weak the strong! It is the weak who pull down the strong.

Related Characters: Geraldine (speaker), Linden Lark (speaker), Joe Coutts, Bazil, Mayla Wolfskin
Page Number: 161
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 11 Quotes

I should have felt happy watching them across the table, but instead I was angered by their ignorance. Like I was the grown-up and the two of them holding hands were oblivious children. They had no idea what I had gone through for them.

Related Characters: Joe Coutts (speaker), Geraldine, Bazil
Page Number: 305
Explanation and Analysis:
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Behind them in the next room the shelves of old books stood… Meditations. Plato. The Iliad. Shakespeare… There was William Warren, Basil Johnston, The Narrative of the Captivity and Adventures of John Tanner, and everything by Vine Deloria Jr… I looked at the books as if they could help us. But we had moved way far past books now into the stories Mooshum told in his sleep. There were no quotations in my father’s repertoire for where we were, and it was beyond me at the time to think of Mooshum’s sleeptalking as a reading of traditional case law.

Related Characters: Joe Coutts (speaker), Mooshum, Geraldine, Bazil
Page Number: 307
Explanation and Analysis:
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In all those miles… there was nothing to be said. I cannot remember speaking and I cannot remember my mother or my father speaking. I knew that they knew everything. The sentence was to endure… I do remember, though, the familiar sight of the roadside café just before we would cross the reservation line. On every one of my childhood trips that place was always a stop for ice cream, coffee and a newspaper, pie… But we did not stop this time. We passed over in a sweep of sorrow that would persist into our small forever. We just kept going.

Related Characters: Joe Coutts (speaker), Cappy Lafournais, Geraldine, Bazil
Page Number: 317
Explanation and Analysis:
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Geraldine Character Timeline in The Round House

The timeline below shows where the character Geraldine appears in The Round House. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter One: 1988
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...done enough, but Joe continues to work as Bazil goes into the house to call Geraldine, Joe’s mother. Joe continues to weed alone all afternoon with an unusually sharp focus. Joe... (full context)
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...the study and Joe hides the book under the table. Bazil then asks Joe where Geraldine is. Joe and Bazil stare at each other briefly in a way that Joe thinks... (full context)
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Bazil and Joe exit the house to borrow Joe’s uncle Edward’s car and find Geraldine. Joe explains to the reader that his father is a judge. Joe walks with his... (full context)
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...occurs to Joe that it is closed on Sundays. Bazil keeps driving, however, and suddenly Geraldine speeds past them going in the other direction, looking anxious, and presumably heading home. Bazil... (full context)
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When they get to the house, Joe and Bazil see that Geraldine is still in her car. Bazil runs toward her, realizing that something is wrong. He... (full context)
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Bazil tells Joe to tell Clemence that he is taking Geraldine to the emergency room. He lays Geraldine in the backseat. Geraldine, though conscious, does not... (full context)
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The pregnant woman turns to the woman next to her and audibly speculates that Geraldine has had a miscarriage or has been raped. The woman then looks back at Joe... (full context)
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...upon talking with Joe, leaves for the hospital immediately. A nurse brings Joe to see Geraldine in her hospital room. Joe finds his mother in a hospital bed, with Bazil standing... (full context)
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When Bazil and Joe go back into Geraldine’s room, Geraldine’s doctor, Dr. Egge, is there. Dr. Egge suggests that Joe leave and gives... (full context)
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Joe interrupts his narrative to say that, years after Geraldine’s attack, after he had gone into law and looked into his mother’s case, he realized... (full context)
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...asks Clemence if his mother was raped, and she says yes. Joe then asks if Geraldine will die from it, and Clemence says no, but tells Joe that it can be... (full context)
Chapter Two: Lonely Among Us
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...that Cappy gave him for comfort after his mother’s rape. Joe then resumes his narrative. Geraldine, now returned from the hospital, sends Joe back to school for the last two weeks... (full context)
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...over. Bazil is at his office, preparing for a leave of absence to care for Geraldine. When Joe tries to open the door to his house, he notices with surprise that... (full context)
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...parent’s bedroom to see his mother. Joe throws himself down on the bed next to Geraldine. Geraldine, who had been sleeping heavily, wakes up and hits Joe in the face. Geraldine... (full context)
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...groceries. When he tries to pay for them, Sonja refuses his money. Sonja asks how Geraldine is, and Joe, who is still disturbed by how his mother hit him, responds that... (full context)
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...over, Joe complains to Bazil over dinner that Pearl is too old to play fetch. Geraldine is upstairs in her room, having declined to eat. Bazil explains that they need a... (full context)
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Bazil tells Joe they aren’t sure whether the attacker is still after Geraldine, or whether the attacker is Native, white, or local. Joe explains to the reader how... (full context)
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...the baking pies and Joe sits with the men while they discuss whether they think Geraldine’s rapist was Native or not. Clemence reenters the room, silencing the conversation with a glance.... (full context)
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...to smoke. Joe is surprised, as Clemence usually does not smoke. Whitey asks Joe how Geraldine is doing, and Joe tells him that she is coming out of her room that... (full context)
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...Bazil tells him to go wash up for dinner. After Joe washes his hands, Joe, Geraldine, and Bazil sit down in the dining room to eat the extremely unappealing stew that... (full context)
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The next week, Geraldine begins to cook again, and Bazil meets with the police to discuss the case’s progress.... (full context)
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...feet away. Between them lies a smashed casserole. Joe realizes that Bazil came up behind Geraldine, putting his arms around her waist in a gesture of intimacy, and Geraldine, thinking he... (full context)
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After Geraldine closes the bedroom door, Bazil and Joe clean up the broken casserole together. Afterward, Bazil... (full context)
Chapter Three: Justice
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...and Bazil says it is because of the round house. Joe asks if that’s where Geraldine was raped, and Bazil does not answer. (full context)
Chapter Four: Loud as a Whisper
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...house doorway, he realizes for certain that it was there, inside the round house, that Geraldine was attacked. Joe begins to cry. (full context)
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...follow the attacker’s probable path along the lake to get more matches—the move that allowed Geraldine to escape. He pictures what the attacker was thinking as he realized Geraldine was escaping,... (full context)
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...and two together, feels like he is going to vomit because he has realized that Geraldine’s attacker had intended to set her on fire. Joe, however, plays it cool when his... (full context)
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...sandwiches that Joe packed. Once they finish, Joe begins explaining the geography and timeline of Geraldine’s attack to his friends. Joe thinks that the attacker must have left a camp in... (full context)
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...call Bazil and tell him where he is. On the phone, Joe asks Bazil where Geraldine is, and Bazil tells him she’s upstairs. Joe tries to tell Bazil he loves him,... (full context)
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...figuring he will pretend to be asleep if caught. Bazil and Edward talk about how Geraldine will not let Bazil sleep in her bed and how she is isolating herself from... (full context)
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Edward tries to comfort Bazil and suggest solutions, like taking Geraldine to church (Geraldine, however, does not attend church since returning from boarding school). Bazil asks... (full context)
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...kitchen, then walks up the stairs into the guest bedroom instead of his room with Geraldine. Joe goes upstairs to sleep, realizing with anger that Bazil did not check to see... (full context)
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As Joe ruminates on the attack, he wonders again about the file Geraldine went back to the office to get that Sunday. Joe suddenly remembers that Geraldine had... (full context)
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...says that ghosts are “out there.” Bazil then takes a cup of coffee up to Geraldine. Joe is angry that Bazil did not try to comfort him by telling him that... (full context)
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...thinks the ghost was outside his bedroom window. Bazil suggests it may be because of Geraldine’s attack, saying that ghosts are “attracted to disturbances.” Bazil also says the ghost may be... (full context)
Chapter Five: The Naked Now
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Bazil had hoped that when the lilacs opened in June, Geraldine would be feeling better. As the weeks go by, however, Geraldine does not improve and... (full context)
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...plate with cookies and a glass of water. Joe knocks on the bedroom door and Geraldine tells him to enter. He sets the plate down and wants to leave, but Geraldine... (full context)
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Geraldine pulls away from Joe. Joe tells Geraldine he needs to talk to her, and Geraldine... (full context)
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...the gas can. He furiously tells Bazil that the police do not actually care about Geraldine. Bazil backpedals, telling Joe that he is proud of him and reiterating that he is... (full context)
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...day Joe asked him for an alibi. Father Travis, cursing at the boys, denies raping Geraldine, saying he would never do something like that since he has a mother and sister... (full context)
Chapter Six: Datalore
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A few days later, Linda arrives at the house, hoping to talk to Geraldine. Joe tells her that Geraldine is sleeping, and Linda waits in the living room for... (full context)
Chapter Seven: Angel One
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...ghost; it is someone “throwing their spirit at [him].” Joe asks if it could be Geraldine’s attacker, but Mooshum says no, since usually these spirits help people. Mooshum advises Joe to... (full context)
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...from putting away the money with Sonja, Bazil and Soren Bjerke, the FBI agent on Geraldine’s case, are drinking coffee at their kitchen table. Joe explains that the FBI has some... (full context)
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...school and his summer. Joe, still feeling guilty about the money, tells them about how Geraldine received a phone call and went to retrieve a file on the afternoon of her... (full context)
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...he backs up, then climbs the stairs. In his room, Joe thinks about how, as Geraldine painted his room when she was pregnant, cranes kept flying by the window. Joe thinks... (full context)
Chapter Eight: Hide and Q
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Joe discusses Geraldine’s job as the tribe enrollment specialist, describing how she determines who qualifies for tribal enrollment.... (full context)
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...and Soren then return upstairs. Bazil goes into the bedroom and says something inaudible to Geraldine, who loudly exclaims “no!” and knocks over the breakfast tray. Bazil tells Soren and Joe... (full context)
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That evening, Bazil sets up a dining table in Geraldine’s room, against her protests, so that they can all eat upstairs together. Over the course... (full context)
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Bazil recounts the story of Geraldine’s great-aunt, who was left on an island by her family. Her parents had intended to... (full context)
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Bazil tells Geraldine that he believes getting justice will help her heal. Bazil also intends to talk with... (full context)
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Bazil tries to assure Geraldine that she is safe. Geraldine stops writhing, stares at Bazil, and harshly tells Bazil that... (full context)
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Geraldine was attacked by a man when she arrived at the round house. He put a... (full context)
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With their attacker right outside, Mayla and Geraldine looked at each other, and Mayla kept looking at her baby, so Geraldine understood that... (full context)
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Strangely, the man began to calm down and then apologized profusely to Geraldine. As he apologized he uncapped a gas can and poured it all over Mayla and... (full context)
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...work at the gas station when he runs into Bazil, who had stayed up with Geraldine all night. Bazil tells Joe that Geraldine refused to talk about what is in the... (full context)
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...the gas station. When he gets back that night, Bazil tells Joe that he took Geraldine to the hospital to rest. Bazil also tells Joe that he believes Geraldine knows who... (full context)
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...like beer. Sonja makes sandwiches at lunchtime and Joe watches Whitey change a tire for Geraldine’s childhood friend Larose, who is also Mayla’s relative. While Whitey unscrews the tire, Larose takes... (full context)
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...him think about Bazil sleeping in the sewing room at their house instead of with Geraldine. Joe asks if he can sleep in the extra bed in Mooshum’s room, and Clemence... (full context)
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...Joe up. Bazil talks with Edward when he arrives and tells him that they have Geraldine’s rapist in custody. Joe asks who it is, but Bazil will not tell him. At... (full context)
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When Joe gets home, Geraldine is more subdued than she had been before, and is resting upstairs. Joe sits outside... (full context)
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...hypothesizes that they are looking for a car, and Joe knows it is Mayla’s, which Geraldine said the attacker sent to the bottom of the lake. He also knows that they... (full context)
Chapter Nine: The Big Good-bye
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The next morning, Joe is preoccupied with making sure that Geraldine’s attacker will be brought to justice so that everything can go back to normal in... (full context)
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...Goodwill with a note pinned to its jacket saying that the baby’s parents were dead. Geraldine then identified her as Mayla’s baby. Following Geraldine’s identification of the child, she returns to... (full context)
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...over and over. When Joe finally goes home, he is standing outside when he hears Geraldine scream. Bazil comes outside to smoke a cigarette and sees Joe standing there. Joe guesses... (full context)
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Bazil comes back inside and leads Geraldine upstairs. When he comes back down, Joe implores Bazil not to leave her alone, but... (full context)
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...and Joe ride back to Joe’s house, where Cappy says goodbye. In the kitchen, Joe, Geraldine, and Bazil all eat together, not speaking about Linden. (full context)
Chapter Ten: Skin of Evil
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...that Linda gave Bazil information on Linden that provoked Bazil take extra steps to keep Geraldine safe, like accompanying her to her office. When they need groceries later that week, Bazil... (full context)
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Together, Bazil and Joe pick up the things on Geraldine’s grocery list. As they turn into the meat aisle, Bazil and Joe see Linden Lark... (full context)
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...breathe. Joe calls an ambulance and Joe rides with him to the hospital. Joe and Geraldine stay in Fargo while Bazil has surgery and recovers in the Fargo hospital. At night,... (full context)
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The second-to-last day that they are in Fargo, Geraldine goes to get coffee and Bazil asks Joe about Linden’s whereabouts. Joe doesn’t know, but... (full context)
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Geraldine is confused about why Linden would call Sonja “rich.” Joe, upset, puts a pillow over... (full context)
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Joe wakes up early on the rainy day they leave Fargo. Geraldine, Bazil, and Joe drive home peacefully, with Joe dozing in the backseat. As Joe enjoys... (full context)
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...buy more ammo alone, but he needs a ride to the ammo store. Joe asks Geraldine to take him to the shoe store, and then Joe makes an excuse to go... (full context)
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...how his mother, even though she is doing reasonably better, has changed since her attack. Geraldine is jumpy and she now treats Joe more like an adult than she did previously.... (full context)
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...politeness is not suspicious. The next day around five o’clock, Linda pulls into the driveway. Geraldine opens the door and accepts banana bread from Linda, then invites her into the living... (full context)
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...goes home. Joe, relieved of his burden for the day, is ecstatic. He talks with Geraldine and then goes upstairs and takes a nap. When he wakes he feels dread, knowing... (full context)
Chapter Eleven: The Child
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...him their shirts. Afterward, Joe and Cappy walk to their respective homes. When Joe arrives, Geraldine asks him where he has been, and Joe says that he was running and then... (full context)
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...tells Bazil that he is happy that Linden is dead and that he deserved it. Geraldine looks at Joe in a way that makes Joe think that she believes he is... (full context)
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...later feeling much better. He then dresses and goes downstairs to watch his mother garden. Geraldine stops what she’s doing to feel his forehead, then proclaims that his fever is gone.... (full context)
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...a pickle jar of water with him to the overlook and had forgotten it there. Geraldine sees Joe looking at it and explains that Vince Madwesin, the tribal policeman, came by... (full context)
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Joe surprises both Linda and himself by asking why Linden raped Geraldine. Linda replies that Linden hated Joe’s entire family, but proceeds to say that the attack... (full context)
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...that Linden wanted to find the enrollment form in order to blackmail Yeltow, and that Geraldine would not give it to him. Linda says that Linden raping Geraldine had more to... (full context)
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...tell “whoever did it” to “rest easy.” Linda then changes the subject and asks how Geraldine is doing. Joe says that his mother said she was fine, but she seemed a... (full context)
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...front of his house. Joe wakes up again after sunset and goes into his kitchen. Geraldine calls into the kitchen from the other room to ask where Joe has been and... (full context)
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Geraldine tells Joe to put the spaghetti on a plate, then she asks if he was... (full context)
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...chair. He looks over and over again at the stone that Cappy gave him. Eventually, Geraldine and Bazil walk in, looking old, Joe thinks. Joe himself feels old. They get in... (full context)
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...on the drive back and Joe knows that his parents know everything that happened already. Geraldine and Bazil switch driving on and off. On the way back they pass a café... (full context)