The Plague of Doves
The Plague of Doves (2008) is the first part of what is usually referred to as Louise Erdrich’s Justice Trilogy, complemented by The Round House (2012), and LaRose (2016). This first book takes place in and around the Little No Horse Reservation and the nearby town of Pluto, departing from the focus of earlier books on the towns of Argus and Hoopdance on the other side of the reservation.
This regional shift signals a new direction for Louise Erdrich, introducing the reader with a new geographical focus and new characters and families, but as the complex relationships untangle, Erdrich leaves enough traces that reconnect this book to her larger oeuvre.
The Plague of Doves is the story of six families whose lives are intertwined in many different ways throughout generations—slowly revealing the mystery that unites them: the Harps, the Peace family, the Coutts family, the Milks, the Wildstrands, and the Lochrens.
Below, you will be able to find the book’s dictionary of characters—providing short descriptions of who these people are and what their role is in Erdrich’s narrative universe.
Note: characters are not listed on the basis of centrality within the plot. The final section “Other Characters” at the bottom of this page lists the characters who are not embedded in a strong family tree, but the fact that they are isolated does not mean they do not function greatly in the story.
Coutts—Family Tree (and connections)
Mr. and Mrs. Coutts (Antone's parents)
Antone’s parents’ first names are not mentioned. The mother is a Chippewa woman who grew up on the reservation. The Couttses lived with their son in the big house in Pluto that Joseph built himself.
Roman was the first lover of Geraldine Milk with whom he wrote his initials on the back of a snapping turtle. Roman walked sixty miles just to meet her. Later, he died in a car accident.
Billy Peace is a charismatic young man who was forced to kidnap John Wildstrand’s wife. Later in life, he marries Marn Wolde and leads a sect called The Kindred, until his wife kills him—read more
Judah and Lilith
Judah and Lilith are Marn Wolde’s children. After killing her husband Billy, Marn takes her two children along with her to the 4-Bs to escape. Lilith later changes her name to Nola.
Eugene was part of the lynching party and decided on the last moment to save Mooshum’s life, because he was married to his bastard daughter, Junesse, though he killed the boy, Holy Tracks.
The Lynching Party and their Relatives
Emil Buckendorf and his brothers
Not much is known about Emil Buckendorf. We only know that he has three brothers with whom he went on the first town-site expedition of what would later on become Pluto, and that later, he would be part of the lynching party.
Mantle, Woods, Gostlin, and Hotchkiss
The four men are mentioned to be part of the lynching party. Nothing else is known about them, other than that Gostlin walks out of the hanging at the last moment, because he does not want to hang the boy, Holy Tracks.
Frederic, Johann, and Mrs. Vogeli
The Vogelis are family of German immigrants from Heidelberg. The Buckendorfs go by the Vogelis to rouse them up for a lynching of the American Indians who were seen at the house of the Lochrens.
Colonel Benton Lungsford
Colonel Benton Lungsford and the sheriff investigate the Lochren murders. Lungsford fought in the Spanish American War. After the lynching, he moves back to Minnessota.
Sheriff Quintus Fells
Quintus Fells is the sheriff who investigated the Lochren murders. He tries to stop the lynching party, but Eugene Wildstrand kills his horse and Quintus is left crippled.
Bliss is a heavy blond woman from Aberdeen, South Dakota. She functions as the treasurer of the Kindred and worships its leader, Billy. Marn had introduced her to her husband’s sect.
Deborah is Billy’s secretary for his sect, the Kindred. Marn expects her to give her husband, Billy, blowjobs in his office. Yet, Marn counts her as her only friend.
Anguish is a woman from the Kindred who is assigned as caretaker of Marn’s children. Marn is anxious as Anguish had killed her own children in a trailer fire.
After her stay in Seattle, Marn is picked up by Frenchie, a silent and awkward man from the Kindred. Marn and he drive to the 4-Bs to have breakfast.
Holy Track's Mother
Holy Track’s mother was a cousin of Junesse and she and her son lived on the edge of Mooshum’s land, until she started suffering from tuberculosis. She ordered Mooshum to make her son the boots that gave him his name. She died shortly after.
Asiginak is named after the great chief, Blackbird. He is Junesse’s uncle and a basketmaker. When the mother of Holy Track, one of his cousins, becomes terribly ill, he adopts him and takes care of him.
Holy Track's Aunt
Little is known about Holy Track’s aunt other than that worked at a sanatorium for tuberculosis patients in Canada and takes her sister in, even though Indians were generally not allowed.
English Bill is the cook of the town-site expedition of Pluto. Joseph Coutts likes his energy, though he dislikes his cooking He owns a terrier and opens a saloon in Pluto after the expedition.
Reginald is a thick, wide-necked, powerful man who falls in love just before going on the expedition. He dies during the journey, and Joseph Coutts visits his lover to tell her about his death.
Odin Merrimack is one of the two speculators who plans and organises the town-site expedition for Pluto. Nothing else is known about him.
Colonel LeVinne P. Poolcaugh
Colonel Poolcaugh is one of the two speculators who plans and organises the town-site expedition for Pluto. Nothing else is known about him.
The Lochren Farm
The father is found with his back blasted out on the grass. He died as he was trying to crawl to his two sons. Nothing else is know about him.
Nothing is known about the mother of the Lochren family. Like her daughter, she was probably killed in the house.
Almost nothing is known about the oldest Lochren daughter except that she was a teenager and that Tobek Hess was presumably in love with her. She was probably killed in the house with her mother.
This older brother of Cordelia is found lying in the grass, curled on his side, next to his four-year-old brother. Nothing else is known about him.
Like his brother, this boy is found curled on his side like he was sleeping on the grass. Nothing else is known about him.
Cordelia "C" Lochren
The State Mental Hospital
Mrs. L is a nurse at the State Mental Hospital. She is known as Mrs. L, because her name is long and Polish, she says. After Evelina’s mental breakdown, she admits her to the hospital.
Nonette is one of the newer patients at the hospital. She is depressive, but very charismatic. She seduces and manipulates Evelina. They kiss intimately and it seems Nonette is ultimately switching places with Evelina.
Warren is a mentally disturbed man who lived on the farm of his nephew and was later transported to a mental institution where Evelina cares for him. He is the one who killed the Lochrens.
Lucille is a paranoid patient at the hospital who thinks she was artificially impregnated nine times and that her children blow spiders under her door. Evelina is responsible for her.
Mrs. Bannock is the post lady who delivers Mooshum’s love letters to Neve Harp. Nothing else is known about her.
Maude "Mustache" Black
From the age of twelve to seventeen, Junesse and Mooshum live with Maude Black in the badlands of South Dakota. She and her husband Ott stare down a lynching party who come to get Mooshum.
Ott Black is the husband of Maude Black. When the lynching party (not the same party as the one that kills Holy Track) comes by to kill Mooshum, Ott shoots one of the men in the ass.
Ted Bursap is a widower who lives in Pluto. He is a general contractor and has jobs in Pluto and Hoopdance. He breaks down everything beautiful about Pluto and builds new apartment buildings. He dies from a bee sting.
Antone Bazil Coutts tries to make his lover, Cordelia Lochren jealous by flirting with Candy, a striptease dancer from Pluto. She is known for throwing hygienically wrapped G-strings at her audience.
Earl is the manager of the 4-Bs, a diner in Pluto. He is the brother of Whitey’s wife—probably Sonja from The Round House. He has a crush on Marn who also used to work at the 4-Bs.
Gottschalk is the old man working on the Pluto Cemetery who hires Antone Bazil Coutts. Gottschalk dies not long after and Antone takes over his responsibilities.
Tobek is the younger brother of Electa Hoag who disappears on the night of the Lochren murders. He leaves for Canada and joins the army to fight in WWI. He did not commit the Lochren murders.
Oric is the husband of Electa and they adopt Cordelia Lochren after her family is murdered. Oric helped the sheriff and colonel in their investigation into the murders.
Electa Hoag is the wife of Oric who adopts Cordelia Lochren. She does not mention her brother’s disappearance when the sheriff interrogates her about the Lochren murders.
Beryl Hoop is a girl in Evelina’s school who offers to beat up Corwin Peace for her after he makes a fool of her. She is probably the same age as Evelina, but nothing else is known about her.
Liver-Eating Johnson is one of the fantastical characters in Mooshum’s memories. He is described as an evil trapper who hates Indians. Monster-like, he hunts Mooshum and bites of the tip of his ear.
Dorea Ann Swivel
Dorea Ann Swivel is a widow and the first lover of Joseph J. Coutts. She is also his landlady and gives Joseph a picture of herself before he leaves on the town-site expedition.