The Round House

The Round House Symbol Analysis

The Round House Symbol Icon

The round house (the novel’s namesake) is a structure on the reservation that is used for Chippewa religious ceremonies and celebrations. According to Mooshum, Nanapush built the round house to resemble the body of a buffalo, which were once central to Chippewa culture. The round house is an important site for the Chippewa people on the reservation, as it continues to be used for religious practice. At the same time, for Joe, it is also the site of the extreme violence against his mother. When Joe thinks about the round house, he feels that it represents “a part of something larger… just a shadow of that way of life.” This suggests that, while the round house represents the richness of Chippewa culture, part of that culture has become a kind of absence: the void of culture that has been violently stamped out. The round house, therefore, is both a monument to modern Chippewa culture and a memorial to the parts of Chippewa culture that have been violently destroyed.

The Round House Quotes in The Round House

The The Round House quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Round House. 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 4 Quotes

During the old days when Indians could not practice their religion— well … pre-1978—the round house had been used for ceremonies. People pretended it was a social dance hall or brought their Bibles for gatherings… By the time the priest or the BIA superintendent arrived, the water drums and eagle feathers … and sacred pipes were in a couple of motorboats halfway across the lake… There was one old Catholic priest who used to sit down with the medicine people… The old priest had learned the songs. No priest knew those songs now.

Related Characters: Joe Coutts (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Round House
Page Number: 60
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 9 Quotes

I lay awake thinking of the place on the hill, the holy wind in the grass, and how the structure had cried out to me. I could see a part of something larger, an idea, a truth, but just a fragment. I could not see the whole, but just a shadow of that way of life.

Related Characters: Joe Coutts (speaker), Mooshum
Related Symbols: The Round House
Page Number: 215
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.

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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The Round House Symbol Timeline in The Round House

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Round House appears in The Round House. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter Three: Justice
Women, Bigotry, and Sexual Violence Theme Icon
Chippewa Tradition vs. Catholicism Theme Icon
...more coffee, Joe reads the last case file. It describes how, during a ceremony at the round house , Vince Madwesin, the tribal policeman, was serving off-duty as a security guard. When Vince... (full context)
Chapter Four: Loud as a Whisper
Parenthood, Foster Families, and Coming of Age Theme Icon
...the lake, and then leaves on his bike to meet Cappy, Zack, and Angus at the round house . Joe is the first one there, and he begins to look around for evidence... (full context)
Women, Bigotry, and Sexual Violence Theme Icon
Chippewa Tradition vs. Catholicism Theme Icon
Joe hears what he thinks is a sound coming from the round house itself. Joe goes up to it and looks inside, but sees nothing amiss. Joe explains... (full context)
Women, Bigotry, and Sexual Violence Theme Icon
Land, the Judicial System, and Justice Theme Icon
When Cappy, Zack, and Angus arrive, they find Joe sitting outside of the round house and with the gas can at his feet. Joe, finally putting two and two together,... (full context)
Chippewa Tradition vs. Catholicism Theme Icon
...Father Travis could have been the one who raped Geraldine, thinking that the rape in the round house could have been a symbolic assertion of Catholic supremacy. Joe thinks that this sounds plausible. (full context)
Parenthood, Foster Families, and Coming of Age Theme Icon
...is true, and he also reveals that he went with Cappy, Angus, and Zack to the round house . (full context)
Chapter Eight: Hide and Q
Women, Bigotry, and Sexual Violence Theme Icon
Storytelling, Formality, and Writing Theme Icon
...to continue, so Geraldine says that Mayla called to ask Geraldine to meet her at the round house , saying that her life depended on it. (full context)
Women, Bigotry, and Sexual Violence Theme Icon
Storytelling, Formality, and Writing Theme Icon
Land, the Judicial System, and Justice Theme Icon
Geraldine was attacked by a man when she arrived at the round house . He put a pillowcase over her head and tied her hands. The man kept... (full context)
Chapter Nine: The Big Good-bye
Chippewa Tradition vs. Catholicism Theme Icon
Land, the Judicial System, and Justice Theme Icon
...him as a wise man. Nanapush looks into his mind and sees the image of the round house . The buffalo woman tells him that Chippewa people formed their communities around buffalo and... (full context)
Chapter Eleven: The Child
Women, Bigotry, and Sexual Violence Theme Icon
Land, the Judicial System, and Justice Theme Icon
...but, in retrospect, Joe states that Yeltow never did. As they drive, Joe thinks about the round house and the story of Nanapush. Joe suggests that they drive all night, so they keep... (full context)