Tracks

Margaret Kashpaw Character Analysis

Margaret Kashpaw is an older Native American woman who is devoted to her children, though we only meet two of them: Eli and Nector. She discourages Eli’s romantic interest in Fleur, but embraces Fleur as her family after Lulu is born. Margaret believes in the ancient Native ways, but she is also a practicing Catholic. She initially gives Nanapush a hard time, but they come to accept each other as companions. Margaret shows great strength when she is attacked by Clarence Morrissey and Boy Lazarre. They cut off her braids, but she frees herself and Nanapush from them. Ultimately, Margaret uses the money that their family has raised to save only the Kashpaw land, when she was supposed to also save the Nanapush and Pillager allotments as well, causing Fleur to separate herself from Margaret, while Nanapush recognizes that he still needs Margaret so that he will have a place to live. Margaret serves as a balance of the old ways and new ways imposed by the whites. She values her land and her family, but recognizes when compromises must be made in regard to both.

Margaret Kashpaw Quotes in Tracks

The Tracks quotes below are all either spoken by Margaret Kashpaw or refer to Margaret Kashpaw. 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 5 Quotes

I didn’t understand until Lazarre slouched and Clarence stood before Margaret, that this had to do with everything. The land purchase. Politics. Eli and Sophie. It was like seeing an ugly design of bruises come clear for a moment and reconstructing the evil blows that made them. Clarence would take revenge for Eli’s treatment of his sister by treating Eli’s mother in similar fashion.

Related Characters: Nanapush (speaker), Margaret Kashpaw, Clarence Morrissey, Boy Lazarre
Page Number: 113
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 9 Quotes

“Go to her. She saved my life twice and now she’s taken it twice back, so there are no more debts. But you, whom I consider my father, I still owe. I will not harm your wife. But I never will go to Kashpaw land.”

Related Characters: Fleur Pillager (speaker), Nanapush, Margaret Kashpaw
Page Number: 214
Explanation and Analysis:
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Margaret Kashpaw Character Timeline in Tracks

The timeline below shows where the character Margaret Kashpaw 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
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Birth, Death, and Survival Theme Icon
The Importance of Nature in Indigenous Life Theme Icon
...who he describes as not the most industrious or educated of young men. Eli’s mother Margaret tries to get him to go to church, but he’s uninterested in that, too. Eli... (full context)
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Self-Destruction vs. Outside Influences Theme Icon
The Importance of Nature in Indigenous Life Theme Icon
Eli’s mother, Margaret, shows up to Nanapush’s cabin to inform him of the rumors she’s heard about her... (full context)
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The Importance of Nature in Indigenous Life Theme Icon
Eventually Nanapush puts down the paper, and Margaret asks him where Eli learned all of the advanced lovemaking techniques her son was witnessed... (full context)
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...one day, speaking gibberish, and people assume that Fleur saw him watching and punished him. Margaret returns to Nanapush to demand he take her to Fleur’s cabin in his boat. Nanapush... (full context)
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Self-Destruction vs. Outside Influences Theme Icon
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The Importance of Nature in Indigenous Life Theme Icon
Nanapush and Margaret repeatedly insult each other, but their interaction also grows flirtatious. Nanapush takes it too far... (full context)
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In the ensuing weeks, while Eli sets traps out on Pillager land, Margaret lays a trap of her own in her house, keeping the table well set until... (full context)
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Pauline seems relieved to have finally shared her story. Margaret is happy to study all of the information, and is sure that Fleur’s child must... (full context)
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...arrives home with a crippled heron that he says is a gift for Eli’s wife. Margaret takes issue with the designation, but Eli says that what he has with Fleur is... (full context)
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Fleur’s labor begins. Pauline runs to fetch Margaret, as she might be the grandmother. Nanapush paddles Margaret across the just-melting lake, as Margaret... (full context)
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...the bear shows up. Nanapush, weaponless, calls for help, but he only attracts the bear. Margaret marches up to the bear to intimidate it, but realizes she has no weapon either... (full context)
Chapter 4: Winter 1914-Summer 1917, Meen-geezis, Blueberry Sun
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Pauline at first feels lighter since telling the story of what happened in Argus to Margaret, but after she shares this information she begins to dream of Fleur. Pauline then reveals... (full context)
Tradition, Assimilation, and Religion Theme Icon
Self-Destruction vs. Outside Influences Theme Icon
The Importance of Nature in Indigenous Life Theme Icon
...Kashpaw nose on her face (suggesting that Eli might be her father). Pauline tells how Margaret was unable to resist the lure of her granddaughter, and takes up residence in Fleur’s... (full context)
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...Eli was running away from Sophie, naked, and so he must be hiding from Fleur. Margaret emerges to try to force-feed Sophie some broth, but the girl’s mouth won’t open. They... (full context)
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...stays to assess that Sophie has not changed since she left Fleur’s cabin, aside from Margaret having built a small fire to keep the girl warm. Clarence and Napoleon run to... (full context)
Chapter 5: Fall 1917-Spring 1918, Manitou-geezis, Strong Spirit Sun
Tradition, Assimilation, and Religion Theme Icon
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...between Eli and Sophie, expanding to include the differing opinions about money and settlements. Nanapush, Margaret, and Lulu go to church, where Father Damien is happy to finally see Nanapush. At... (full context)
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...The two men pass them and Nanapush has a bad feeling. He tries to convince Margaret to turn around and go to his cabin, but she wants to go on to... (full context)
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Boy and Clarence then jump out to grapple with Margaret and Nanapush, and Lulu runs off. Margaret bites Boy Lazarre, giving him a wound that... (full context)
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Nanapush realizes that this is not just about land, but about Clarence wanting to humiliate Margaret in the same way that Eli has humiliated his sister Sophie. Nanapush tries to discourage... (full context)
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Margaret taunts the men, saying, “Come near…Let me teach you how to die!” Margaret then sings... (full context)
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When they are finally freed, Margaret calls out for Lulu, but they find her safe, sitting with Nector at Margaret’s house.... (full context)
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...how they’ll do it, eventually thinking of a plan when they return to Fleur’s cabin. Margaret tells Fleur what happened, and Fleur wordlessly shaves her own head in solidarity and then... (full context)
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...square of flour sack. Afterward, Boy cries for days as an infection in the wound Margaret gave him climbs up his arm. Nanapush and Nector finally set the snare near Boy’s... (full context)
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...tree, Clarence’s mouth droops on one side, a constant reminder of what happened. Nanapush buys Margaret a black hood that looks like a coal bucket, and they begin to warm to... (full context)
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Father Damien asks if Nanapush and Margaret will marry, and Nanapush tries to shock him by saying they’re already having relations. Even... (full context)
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Winter continues, but Nanapush’s traps remain empty, and they run out of moose meat. Margaret tries to convince Nanapush to live at her place because her cellar is full of... (full context)
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Margaret runs outside with some of the items in the trunk, and Nanapush hears tearing. He... (full context)
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Nanapush becomes depressed in Margaret’s absence. He grows so weak he cannot stand, and has a dream he previously had... (full context)
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When the snow thaws, it’s Margaret who wakes Nanapush with a spoonful of berries. Lulu is there too, with a new... (full context)
Chapter 6: Spring 1918-Winter 1919, Payaetonookaedaed-geeziz, Wood Louse Sun
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Self-Destruction vs. Outside Influences Theme Icon
...can come inside. Fleur tells Lulu to gather snow to melt into water from outside. Margaret leaves, accompanying Eli and Nector to town to sell some wood to pay the land... (full context)
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...begins to boil it. Lulu puts on her thin patent leather shoes and goes to Margaret’s house to retrieve the others. Fleur tells Pauline to get moss to plug the bleeding.... (full context)
Tradition, Assimilation, and Religion Theme Icon
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...the day of the storm. Fleur and Pauline race back to the cabin just before Margaret arrives. Pauline finds that her skirts are again pinned by the knife Fleur plunged into... (full context)
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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 out... (full context)
Chapter 7: Winter 1918-Spring 1919, Paguk Beboon, Skeleton Winter
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Nanapush finds Lulu passed out outside Margaret’s cabin. Lulu is so frozen that she can say only that something is wrong with... (full context)
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Nanapush nurses Lulu for days in Margaret’s cabin, though Fleur, trapped in her own cabin by the weather and her weakness, begs... (full context)
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Margaret volunteers to go and leaves the cabin for town. She returns with Father Damien, who... (full context)
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...eat more now that they are catching their own, and Nanapush is again interested in Margaret romantically. They make love, and Nanapush says they should build a house on the Pillager... (full context)
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Nanapush says that after Fleur lost her other baby, she became more protective of Lulu. Margaret asks Fleur to let Lulu have some freedom now. Nanapush identifies with Fleur’s reaction to... (full context)
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...they prepare the fire and stew, Pauline approaches the tent they’ve built, and Fleur and Margaret arrive, too. (full context)
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...with his hands and gives it to Fleur to eat. Pauline approaches the pot, and Margaret tries to quietly nudge her out of the tent so that Fleur might continue her... (full context)
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...they are all so relieved that none of them think it odd that Nector and Margaret spend a significant amount of time away. (full context)
Chapter 9: Fall 1919-1924, Minomini-geezis, Wild Rice Sun
Tradition, Assimilation, and Religion Theme Icon
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...he watched the fees taken to town, but the Agent tells him that Nector and Margaret paid off only the Kashpaw allotment, not the Pillager land, because there was a late... (full context)
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...until Lulu says something silly in her sleep, and the two of them laugh together. Margaret arrives, and Fleur tells Nanapush to go to her. Fleur says that Margaret has saved... (full context)
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Nanapush moves to Margaret’s house, but he is never able to believe the best of her again or to... (full context)
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...After sending Lulu off to the government school, Fleur returns to Matchimanito to live alone. Margaret spends her time gathering berries and making preserves for Nector, who she fears will suffer... (full context)
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After this, Margaret and Nanapush attempt to get Lulu back from the government school. Nector goes to Oklahoma.... (full context)