What Is the Summary of “The Loons” by Margaret Laurence?

The short story “The Loons,” written by Margaret Laurence, tells the story of Piquette Tonnerre, a girl of mixed racial descent who struggles to adapt to her nonwelcoming surroundings. Laurence describes Piquette’s journey through life with the help of Vanessa, another girl who befriends Piquette after being introduced by her father.

Although her story focuses primarily on the complexities of human societal interactions, Laurence weaves the life story of loons into her tale as well. The story compares the outsider characters of the loon birds and Piquette: like Piquette, loons are shy beings and suffer from negative impacts of humans on their surrounding environment, as does Piquette. The grievances suffered by Piquette, however, are social in nature, while the negative effects incurred by the loons are environmental and physical.

Both detriments are manmade: Piquette faces discrimination as whites invade the once Indian-dominated region in which she lives, changing her native habitat and destroying life as she once knew it in the process. The same change in environment affects the loons: the birds once graced the large lake surrounding the community, but after the conversion of the land to make room for development, they no longer have a place to live. Ultimately, neither Piquette nor the loons are able to fully adapt to their nonnative environments.