Tracks

Bernadette Morrissey Character Analysis

Bernadette Morrissey is a mixed-blood mother of four children: Clarence, Sophie, Philomena, and Marie. She is a widow who works on a farm with her brother, Napoleon. She works both as a midwife to help babies into the world and also as a preparer of the dead, a trade she teaches Pauline, who she allows to live with them. When Pauline becomes pregnant with Napoleon’s baby, Bernadette convinces Pauline to keep it and then adopts the child as her own once it is born. After her two eldest children marry, she moves to Argus to work as secretary to the Agent, denying the Indian ways in a similar way to Pauline.

Bernadette Morrissey Quotes in Tracks

The Tracks quotes below are all either spoken by Bernadette Morrissey or refer to Bernadette Morrissey. 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:
Tradition, Assimilation, and Religion Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Harper Perennial edition of Tracks published in 2011.
Chapter 6 Quotes

After that we made a plan together to hide the fact of my condition. We were both clever with materials and scissors, and between us we devised a concealing dress that would allow me to accompany Bernadette until I became too advanced. Once that happened, I would not venture off the farm. She would deliver me, having knowledge in her hands of birth as well as death.

Related Characters: Pauline Puyat (speaker), Bernadette Morrissey
Page Number: 132
Explanation and Analysis:
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Bernadette Morrissey Character Timeline in Tracks

The timeline below shows where the character Bernadette Morrissey appears in Tracks. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3: Fall 1913-Spring 2014, Onaubin-geezis, Crust on the Snow Sun
Tradition, Assimilation, and Religion Theme Icon
Birth, Death, and Survival Theme Icon
The Importance of Nature in Indigenous Life Theme Icon
Pauline has recently become Bernadette’s assistant in preparing the dead for burial, and sometimes Pauline also sits with the dying,... (full context)
Chapter 4: Winter 1914-Summer 1917, Meen-geezis, Blueberry Sun
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Bernadette Morrissey and her brother Napoleon visit Argus to trade for what they cannot supply themselves... (full context)
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Birth, Death, and Survival Theme Icon
...is large and has a variety of crops and animals. Sophie is the older of Bernadette’s daughters, and Philomena the younger. Pauline tells Bernadette that her Aunt Regina and Dutch had... (full context)
Tradition, Assimilation, and Religion Theme Icon
Birth, Death, and Survival Theme Icon
The Importance of Nature in Indigenous Life Theme Icon
...Pepewas dies in Pauline’s company, Pauline is finally able to rest again. Pauline goes with Bernadette to Mary’s house, and when it is time to take her turn sitting with the... (full context)
Tradition, Assimilation, and Religion Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Birth, Death, and Survival Theme Icon
A year passes as Pauline continues to assist Bernadette, sometimes going out on her own to attend to the dead, and people recognize her... (full context)
Gender Roles Theme Icon
...She buys fabric to make Sophie a new dress, fitting it tightly to her form. Bernadette doesn’t pay attention to Pauline’s interest in Sophie, because she is busy running the farm... (full context)
Tradition, Assimilation, and Religion Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
One day Bernadette stumbles on Napoleon cornering Pauline behind the barn. Pauline escapes, changing the subject to suggest... (full context)
Tradition, Assimilation, and Religion Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Self-Destruction vs. Outside Influences Theme Icon
...but Sophie collapses and Pauline has to drag her home. At the Morrisseys’, Pauline shows Bernadette the evidence of what happened on the dress, and Sophie confirms. Clarence loads his gun,... (full context)
Tradition, Assimilation, and Religion Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Self-Destruction vs. Outside Influences Theme Icon
...her crime without revealing his own crime to Fleur. The next day Pauline reveals to Bernadette that she did witness what happened, but that Sophie made the first move. Bernadette goes... (full context)
Chapter 6: Spring 1918-Winter 1919, Payaetonookaedaed-geeziz, Wood Louse Sun
Tradition, Assimilation, and Religion Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Self-Destruction vs. Outside Influences Theme Icon
Birth, Death, and Survival Theme Icon
...Pauline has already committed herself to God, so she tries to cause herself to miscarry. Bernadette catches her doing this and stops her. Pauline reveals that it is Napoleon’s child, and... (full context)
Tradition, Assimilation, and Religion Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Self-Destruction vs. Outside Influences Theme Icon
Birth, Death, and Survival Theme Icon
Pauline and Bernadette plan to hide the pregnancy as long as Pauline promises not to try to stop... (full context)
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Birth, Death, and Survival Theme Icon
Bernadette also insists that Napoleon not show his face to Pauline, and makes him stay in... (full context)
Tradition, Assimilation, and Religion Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Self-Destruction vs. Outside Influences Theme Icon
Birth, Death, and Survival Theme Icon
...last of the wheat. The armistice bells clang, keeping Pauline awake. She goes into labor, Bernadette coaching her through, but Pauline realizes that she doesn’t want to let the child go... (full context)
Tradition, Assimilation, and Religion Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Self-Destruction vs. Outside Influences Theme Icon
Birth, Death, and Survival Theme Icon
Pauline tells Bernadette that she wants herself and the child to die so that the baby won’t be... (full context)
Tradition, Assimilation, and Religion Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Self-Destruction vs. Outside Influences Theme Icon
Birth, Death, and Survival Theme Icon
The Importance of Nature in Indigenous Life Theme Icon
Pauline sees herself out, saying she’ll send Father Damien and Bernadette. Margaret, holding a knife, spits on Pauline’s shoes and then her veil, and Pauline holds... (full context)
Chapter 7: Winter 1918-Spring 1919, Paguk Beboon, Skeleton Winter
Tradition, Assimilation, and Religion Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Self-Destruction vs. Outside Influences Theme Icon
...in which he was believed to have murdered his wife. The new families take over Bernadette’s house, and Bernadette brings baby Marie and Philomena to live in town, where she takes... (full context)
Tradition, Assimilation, and Religion Theme Icon
Self-Destruction vs. Outside Influences Theme Icon
...a government position, but the letter goes unanswered by the new secretary to the Agent: Bernadette. (full context)