Archive for Love Medicene
The story of Love Medicine takes places throughout many years spanning from 1934 and 1985. Each chapter is told by a different narrator, in a different year, in a different place, and sometimes in a different point of view. Most of the story takes place on or around an Indian reservation in North Dakota.
Louise Erdrich grew up on the Turtle Mountain Band of the Ojibwe Reservation in North Dakota. Her mother was a Chippewa and her father was a German-American. Her characters represent both sides of her, the Lamartines and Kashpaws displaying her Native American side and the Lazarre’s representing her German-American. She took many classes in college on Native American cultures and once graduated she wrote a short story entitled “The World’s Greatest Fisherman” which turned into the first chapter of Love Medicine after it won a fictional literature competition. Love Medicine went on to win The Book Credits Circle Award for Fiction. She is so attached to the characters in this book, that she continues to write short stories or other books based on the lives of these characters after Love Medicine.
“Louise Erdrich : The Poetry Foundation.” The Poetry Foundation. 2011. Web. 05 Jan. 2012. <http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/louise-erdrich>.
Christ: Throughout the story, Gordie Kashpaw continuously shows signs of being a Christ-like figure. His mother gave him a wound on his hand, he was in great agony from the guilt and sadness from June’s death, he spent a lot of time alone lost in his drunken haze, he was tempted by a type of devil (drinking), and a quote his mother said about him rising on the third day. Not to mention that the chapters that mostly focused on him were called “Crown of Thorns” and “Resurrection”. Gordie symbolized hope after death and redemption after one has lost themselves. Also in the very beginning Gordie’s mother Marie received a stab through her hand that resembled Christ’s wounds. She was then treated like a saint after she awoke. This figure of Christ is ironic because Sister Leopolda had told everyone it was a miracle when it was really an act of extreme violence.
Candy: In Nector’s mind candy symbolized sex, maybe it refers to sugar. But as a young man he says that he is always in a surplus of candy, or offers from woman. As he grows older and has his affair with Lulu, he writes Marie a letter telling her the truth about him and Lulu. He places it under the sugar bowl. Whether Louise Erdrich planned this, it is ironic because he wrote the note because he realized his feelings with Lulu after sleeping with her for five years. Years later while at the Senior Citizens, Lulu meets him for the first time since their affair ended. He was attempting to get candy out of a vending machine because he was slowly loosing his mind. This is ironic because in his young life he only thought about sex, or “candy”. Now as he is slowly losing his mind entirely, all he can think about is candy, the real kind.
Water: Throughout the story, many different types of relationships with water come about. The chapter names are the most obvious, with names such as The Island, A Bridge, The Good Tears, Crossing the Water, possibly the chapter Scales if thought of as fish scales. Henry Jr. also drowns in a river in the chapter called A Bridge. In the book, Lulu remembers a Native American myth that if a person drowns their soul wanders the earth forever, never entering heaven or hell. This shows the negative aspect of the symbol of water in this story. But in the chapter Crossing the Water, Lipsha is reborn and learns many lessons about life, love, and family. This is the rebirth aspect of water as a symbol.
Sex: A huge motif in this book is sex. Many characters commit this act for many different reasons. For example, Beverly and Lulu might have had sex to comfort each other from the sadness of Henry’s death. Albertine might have given her virginity to Henry Jr. as another step of her rebellion after running away from home. In the very first chapter, June most likely had sex with the guy from the bar out of nothing but drunken pleasure. There are many reasons for literary characters to have sex and Love Medicine mentions them all.
This part is a list of all the characters. Include an extensive description of each but choose one character to really analyze.
Rushes Bear (Margaret Kashpaw): Margaret is a very tough old women who coined her nickname Rushes Bear because she supposedly defeated a bear on her own. She is Nector and Eli Kashpaw’s mother and is married to Kashpaw and then Lulu’s father, Nanapush. She rejected both Lulu and Marie possibly because she wanted to protect her son. She wanted to prevent Lulu from marring her first husband, Moses Pillager, and wished that her son had married her instead of Marie. She showed signs of faith in a higher spirits. She is a very fair woman until you have broken her morals. She basically disowned her son Nector when he called Marie ” just a Lazarre” after Marie had given birth to their child without making a sound.
Kashpaw: He is the original husband to Rushes Bear and Nector’s father. Not much is known about his relationships with his wife or son.
Nanapush: He is Rushes Bear’s second husband and Lulu’s father. He was a very tender father to Lulu often stroking her hair to show her fondness and telling her to forget Nector to prevent heartbreak.
Eli Kashpaw: Eli is known as the family bachelor because he never married and never was around any women from what we can infer from the book. He raised June once she ran away from Marie. He was known to drink a lot and never loose control, like his brother Nector. He was the son of Rushes Bear and Kashpaw.
Nector Kaspaw: Nector is one of the central characters in the book. He is the son of Rushes Bear and Kashpaw and is brothers with Eli. As a child he was sent to an English school where he first met Lulu at a dance. He fell in love with her until he met Marie on hill leading from the Convent. The quickly got married and had many children. Nector was constantly drinking and leaving Marie to fend by herself with their many children. He was an immature soul and used alcohol as a way to run from his responsibility. Once he realized life was passing him by he turned his life around only to fall right back into Lulu’s arms. He cheated on Marie for five years. This was his internal struggle between the safe life with a family and the bachelor life where he was free to come and go with no responsibilities. He seemed to love both women equally. but ended up choosing Lulu who did not choose him back.
As he grows older, he begins to lose his mind. He constantly thought about candy when he was not in his right state of mind. This is ironic because when he was younger he referred to women and sex as candy and claimed that he was always receiving offers of candy. He always thought about it as a young man and always will as an older man. Nector continues to cheat on his wife, right under her nose in the Senior Citizens. Infidelity is definitely a major character flaw for Nector. He dies in because his wife and niece’s son want him to finally in his end of days in faithful and only think of his wife. Being faithful was so impossible for Nector to do that it actually killed him. He also never recognized Lyman Lamartine as his son.
Marie Lazarre: Marie is a second character in the central love triangle. She came from the only white family on the reservation and is married to Nector Kashpaw. Marie is on the receiving end of many prejudices because of the family she comes from. She had five children with her husband Nector. She eventually found out about Lulu and Nector but instead of being angry she welcomed Nector back into a perfectly clean house in her expensive purple dress. She strived for perfection in other aspects of her life because her marriage was not perfect. She wanted to show Nector that she was the best woman for him with her home cooked dinners and polished floors. She adopted June when her sister died and abandoned her in a bush. She never really wanted her but eventually gained a real connection with her. When June left for Eli’s, Marie missed her so much that she hoped she would give birth to a girl. In the end of her life, she helped Lulu with her eye surgery. This shows that she is a real compassionate and forgiving person for not only forgiving Lulu, but Nector as well.
Gordie Kashpaw: Gordie was June’s first husband and is father to King. He is Nector and Marie’s eldest son. Throughout the entire book, Gordie is repeatedly compared to Christ. he could also be a symbolic angel who has fallen from grace by temptations from the devil. He was completely distraught after June’s death and sees it as his father. This could be one of the reasons he took her death so hard. He was literally going crazy with drink and guilt. His mother slowly changed him back into the man he used to be.
Zelda Kashpaw: She is Marie and Nector’s second child. Not much is known of Zelda except that she is Albertine’s mother(her father is a white man named Swede Johnson who left Zelda) and wants her to find a suitor. Albertine is still young and has plenty of time to get married. This comment shows that Zelda is very concerned with the idea of a women being inferior if they do not have a man. It could show that she relates happiness to having a man in her life.
Aurelia Kashpaw: She is Marie and Nector’s third child. She defends Albertine when Zelda tells her to find a husband, but not much else is known of Aurelia.
Eugene Kashpaw: He is Marie and Nector’s fourth child. He could have been the child that Rushes Bear assisted in delivering but it never really mentions his name in the book.
Patsy Kashpaw: This is Marie and Nector’s last child and also be the child that Rushes Bear helped with but again it is not said in the story.
Albertine Johnson: Albertine is the first narrator in book. She is Zelda’s daughter and was studying nursing during the time of June’s death. She left school to come home and most likely never went back. She ran away from home and lost her virginity to Henry Jr. Lamartine. This shows that she has a wild rebellious side. She works with Dot Adare at a truck weighing plant and witnesses her love with Gerry Nanapush. Although she never finds a husband, she seems to desire a love like Gerry and Dot’s. She was always hoping for their love to succeed and during the time that Gerry and her ran away together to have their daughter, Albertine always thought about them and played out different happy scenarios for her imaginary Dot and Gerry to go through. She has a very strong connection with Lipsha Morrisey shown in the first chapter of the book.
June Morrissey: June has no immediate connection with any Chippewas on the reservation. She is Marie’s sister’s daughter who is half-Lazarre and half-Morrisey. He was married to Gordie and had their son King. She then had Lipsha Morrisey with Gerry Kashpaw. She was adopted by Marie, but left shortly after Marie stopped her children from hanging her in the back yard. She did not want a structured home life evidently, so she moved into her Uncle Eli’s house. Here she slept on a cot in the living room for many years. After leaving Gerry and the reservation, all the reader knows is that she was trying to travel home. The first chapter of the book shows how she was living before she attempted to return to the reservation. She slept with a random guy she met at a bar in his car and tried to walk to the reservation in the worst snow storm in 40 years. She must have been very depressed over the life she was living to walk many miles in a snow storm. Not much is known about June other than some small stories told by her family members after her death.
King Kashpaw: King is the son of June and Gordie. He has a son with his wife Lynette. He is a very hotheaded, fiery character. He often gets in fist fights with Lynette and even once with Albertine. He seems very selfish because of the fact that he does not care about his wife of child, leaving him once in the Kashpaw house so he and Lynette could have sex in his truck. He kept all of the insurance money from June’s death for himself and spent it on his truck, which was considered rather dumpy. He turned in Gerry Kashpaw to the cops after one of his escapes and fears his release in the last chapter of the book. This also shows King’s selfish side because he obviously turned Gerry in for his own benefit.
Lynette: Lynette is King’s wife and mother to King Jr. She is very often abused by her husband and more than likely drunk. She is not a helpless victim at all. She usually fights back or shouts comments that she knows will get on King’s nerves. She is also very worried about Gerry’s escape in the last chapter of the book, maybe King or herself. She is a very horrible mother, usually drunk and has no idea what her child is doing.
King “Howard” Kashpaw Jr.: Howard is the child of King Kashpaw and Lynette. He wants to be called in Howard in school in hopes to distance himself from his father. This is understandable when a child comes from an abusive family. Howard even wanted the police to take King away with them when they were searching for Gerry. He taught himself to read and is incredibly smart. He may have a violent streak, probably inherited from his father. When watching Looney Tunes with Lipsha he said his favorite part was watching the coyote die. He could be showing some inner darkness or it could just be childish humor.
Lipsha Morrisey: Lipsha is the child of Gerry Kashpaw and June Morrisey, but was secretly adopted by Marie and Nector Kashpaw. He is very, very close with Albertine Kashpaw, saying that she is the only girl he has ever trusted. He often get in fights with King, his half-brother, because of King’s conceited nature and the way Lipsha is teased. Even though everyone else on the reservation knows about his true parentage, he eventually learns from his real grandma Lulu in the Senior Citizens. He then leaves in the hopes of meeting King and meeting his real father, Gerry. Meeting his father and driving him to Canada changed Lipsha’s whole out look on life and he realized that the reservation was the place for him.
Gerry Nanapush: Gerry is Lulu’s first son she had with Moses Pillager. He is a legend around the reservation for his quote ” No concrete shitbarn prison’s built that can hold a Chippewa”. He was originally arrested for assaulting a cowboy. He has escaped jail multiple. He was then charged with killing a state trooper on one of his escapes. He is married to dot Adare and they have a daughter together named Shawn. He has a second son, Lipsha, as well that he never really knew about with June Morrisey.
Dot Adare: Dot is Gerry wife and the mother of his daughter. She worked in a truck weighing station with Albertine for a while where they gained a really close relationship. She now lives in Canada so Gerry can be free.
Lulu Nanapush Lamartine: Lulu is the third and final piece to the main love triangle in this book. She is the daughter of Nanapush and a mother who left her and her father. She has nine children with six different men. She has two children (Gerry and one unnamed son) with her cousin Moses Pillager. She then married Morrisey and Henry Lamartine, but had no children with them. She had an affair with Beverly Lamartine (had Henry Lamartine Jr.), Nector Kashpaw (had Lyman Lamartine), and an unnamed Mexican (had Bonita Lamartine). She was well known as trash around the reservation. She never let any of these rumors and names bother her. She was the most dominant of female characters in this book, with the most confidence and fight in her. She had the nerve to stand up in front of the tribal committee and plead her case as they shouted names and insults at her. Despite the hatred, she never let this take a chip off of her shoulder. Although she never ended with Nector, the one she truely loved, she had her nine boys to keep her company and gained a friend in Marie.
Moses Pillager: Known around the reservation for being a hermit, Moses is Lulu’s first husband. He brings her her first sons, but their marriage ends when he refuses to leave his island with her. His family is well known for working with medicine, but he is well known for something much different. When he was young, a sickness was going around the reservation. In order to save him, his mother pretended he was dead to trick the spirits from killing him. They pretended to bury him and sung all of the burial hymns. He forever wore his clothes backward for these reasons. His last name literally means one who pillages, or steals. Louise Erdrich might have chosen this name because he stole life.
Henry Lamartine: Henry is Lulu’s second husband who was killed by a car accident with a train. Many people on the reservation believe he committed suicide but no one can really tell. Lulu named her 7th son after him, even though it was not his son.
Beverly Lamartine: Beverly was Lulu’s first affair after her last marriage to Morrisey. He returned to Lulu because he believed that her son Henry Jr. was his. They started their affair the night of Henry Sr.’s funeral probably to comfort one another. Lulu was going to marry him and move away to the city, but Beverly already had another wife. She sent Gerry and Beverly to the city to get a divorce but neither ever came back.
Henry Lamartine Jr.: Henry Jr. is the son of Lulu and Beverly Lamartine. He bought a car with his brother Lyman and spent the summer riding around the country. When they returned, Henry was sent to Vietnam for the war effort. When he came back he met Albertine in the city and spent the night with her. When he returned to the reservation and he was never the same again. After fixing up the car, his brother Lyman had destroyed, he decided to take it for a ride to the river. Once there he and Lyman had a laugh, so Henry walked into the water and let the water take him and was never seen again. During his stay with Albertine, he continued to recall faces and events of the war. He must have been so disturbed by these images that he could not live with himself anymore an committed suicide.
Lyman Lamartine: Lyman is LuLu and Nector Kashpaw’s son. He was conceived during their five year affair and was never recognized by his father. During the summer that Henry Jr. had left for Vietnam, he spent his time fixing up the car that had been damaged during their road trips during the previous summer. Once Henry got back, Lyman was so struck by how different Henry was that he purposely destroyed the car with a sledgehammer to give Henry something to focus on. After Henry had fixed the car again and took the trip to the river, Lyman spent hours trying to find his brother in the river. In the end, he did not want to admit to his mother that Henry had committed suicide so he drove the car into the river to make it look like an accident. Lyman was deeply affected by his brother’s suicide.
Bonita Lamartine: Bonita is Lulu’s last child and only daughter who she had with an unnamed Mexican. Nothing else is really known about her.
Marie now lives alone in her apartment in the Senior Citizens Center and starts the chapter by going through Nector’s things. Gordie comes up to her apartment looking like a disaster with no jacket, his shirt ripped open, and his pants falling down. He laid down on the grass and fell asleep. Marie later went to bed and awoke wondering if Gordie was awake, when she heard rustling in the kitchen. She thinks he had been looking for her money. She tried to make him comfortable, but all he wanted was a drink. They began to talk about what Gordie has been up to, he gets to close and Marie slashes his hard with her kitchen knife. He makes a joke that they match now. Gordie then lies down and thinks back to his and June’s honeymoon. They had no money but wanted to get off the reservation so they hitchhiked to the closet of Minnesota’s lakes and found a resort called Johnson’s. They asked a man if they could stay and he said they could but he had to sell everything. He gave them a mattress to sleep on and a comforter. That night they went swimming in the lake and when they returned to the resort, Gordie recalled that making love that night felt like work. They spent the next night holding hands on the dock.
Marie came into the house one afternoon to the smell of chemicals and found that Gordie had been trying to get high of her Lysol Cleaning Spray. Marie waited until that night when Gordie woke up. She thought about letting him go, but decided that he needed someone to care about him, so she held her ax and wouldn’t let him leave.
Analysis: Gordie displayed even more characteristics of Christ in this chapter. He gained a wound on his hand and his mother justified not letting him leave with this thought, ” On the third day he would rise though.” He also spent time alone, maybe not in the wilderness, but alone in a sense that he had nobody and nothing to live on.
The Good Tears (1983)
This section is Lulu’s side to all of the stuff that has happened to her in the past. Lulu wants to justify everything she has done in her life. She talks about how Nector Kashpaw was her first love that she met at a mission dance hall. When she found out about Marie and Nector, she married Moses Pillager. And when he wouldn’t leave the island, she married a man named Morrisey. She then married Henry Lamartine out of love. He died in a car accident with a train. She says her wildness took over after that. Nector began to visit her in the dead of night with scraps of meat in his pocket to feed her dogs in order to climb into her window. She always kept a bowl of soap and water by her bed because she was afraid of the smell of flesh being on her. This stems from a memory she tells the reader. She begins by saying she had never shared this with anybody. Lulu had a small house in the woods she used to pretend was hers. She would sweep the floor and pretend and cook for her imaginary family. Then one day, she found a dead hobo lying across her front door mat. Lulu took that the brown hat off of his face that was covering his dead eyes and she instantly became afraid and aware of death. She kept him there all summer and watched his body decompose, until she left for school that fall and never returned to her make believe house. Nector Kashpaw had come back into her life and she “clung to him like no other”. Five years later, Nector signed Lulu’s house over to the government. That night she sicced that dog on him and left with Beverly Lamartine to marry again. Lulu made an attempt to keep her house by speaking out in front of the tribal council. They rejected her claim and told them they were staying on the land. Lulu married Bev, but soon found out he had a wife. She sent Gerry with Bev back to the city to divorce his first wife, but neither ever came back. She recalls the day that her house was burnt down. She claims she knew before the house was even set ablaze that Nector was the one who did it. As the house was on fire, she realized that her son, Lyman, may have still been in the house. she ran inside to save him and in doing so burned off all her hair and would remain bald forever. After the fire, everyone in the village who had rejected her previously asked her to stay in their homes. She stayed on her land until the tribe built a house for them on top of a hill over looking the entire reservation. Soon after Henry Jr. drowned in the river and like when his father died, she said nothing. Lulu has her last child, Bonita, with a Mexican sugar beet farmer. At 65 she begins to lose her eye sight and moves into the Senior Citizens Center and brings all of the things she had in her old house, including the picture of Nector in The Plunge of the Brave.
On Lulu’s first day in at the Senior Citizens she meets Nector in the lobby. He is trying to get some candy out of the vending machine. Lulu is the first to say hello, but when she does Nector cannot remember her. He continues worrying about his candy and Lulu hears Marie telling other about the development of his disease. Lulu talks of a time when she met Nector in the laundry room and he told her to call off the dogs. They had an intimate kiss but was interrupted when her wig fell of and Lipsha came into the room. Nector had died while Lulu was in recovery from her surgery. She goes to the funeral and Lyman realizes that Nector was his father. Lulu talks of how she often wonders of Henry Jr.’s afterlife and how Nector had visited her, too, after he had passed. She returned to the Senior Citizens and needed someone to take care of her but the Center was short on aides. Marie agreed to help her and soon Lulu regained her vision.
Analysis: This chapter allowed Lulu to finally come clean about her secret life. Many people called her names for always have men around her, but this chapter finally exposed that all she ever wanted was love. She only ever found that in Nector and her husband Henry. This also shows that she is willing to sacrifice her love for her children. Whether it was because Lyman was half Nector, so she felt she needed to save him is never known. Lulu always felt a strong connection between her and Nector for their entire lives. This chapter brings a lot of clarity to the events of the chapter told by Nector involving the break up of his marriage.
Crossing the Water (1985)
The first section is told by Howard Kashpaw. At home, he was known as King Jr. but at school he wanted to be called Howard. We learn that Howard had taught himself how to read. King and Lynette continue to fight over frequently and are afraid of Gerry Kashpaw escaping from jail again. Howard his worried that his father will be arrested again after the neighbors band on their front door for fighting too loud.
Lipsha Morrisey soon takes over the rest of the chapter starting off with telling King Kashpaw how he had joined the army. King had been in the Marine’s and advice him to avoid it at all costs. Lipsha then remembers when he found out he was King’s brother. Lulu had told him at the Senior Citizens. She didn’t care how he felt because she could either gain a grandson (Gerry, her son, was Lipsha’s father) or lose someone who hated her anyway. Lipsha had trouble taking in the facts but eventually did and returned back to Marie’s apartment to take some money and leave. It was now that he had signed up for the army and went to visit his half-brother King. As children they never got along, but as they matured they were neutral toward each other. King and Lynette are both drunk and Howard is left alone to watch Looney Tunes and fix his own dinner. Both Lipsha and Howard each whatever cereal is in the house. They deiced to play cards using Lucky Charms marshmallow as their chips. Lipsha asked about Gerry but King did not say much on the matter. That night the newscaster told the King and Lipsha that their father had escaped maximum prison. Soon Gerry was climbing through King’s apartment window.
He sat down to play cards wit them. There was tension between Gerry and King since King had betrayed his father by turning him in. Lipsha introduces himself to Gerry. Both Gerry and Lipsha realize they have been marking the cards in order to help with their game. Gerry asks what they are playing for and Lipsha says we should play for King’s car, the one he bought with June’s insurance money. King finally agrees and Lipsha deals the cards from his marked deck. He deals the cards so he will win, which he does. Just as he tells Gerry he will drive him anywhere, the Police begin pounding on the door. Everybody freezes but Howard. Too short to reach the door knob, he pounds back yelling that he is here, King is in the apartment. The police break through the door, but Gerry had disappeared. They apologized for the disturbance and less. Lipsha yelled for the registration to the car and left.
Lipsha began driving down the highway in no real direction. He began to hear knocking coming from somewhere in the car but as he would speed up the knocking would quiet down. It continued to happen so he pulled over to put what he thought was the jack back into its place. Once he stopped the knocking became so loud that he believed that King might have kept a dog in the trunk. When he opened the trunk Gerry hopped out, choking for air. Lipsha agreed to bring him to Canada so he could reunited with his wife and daughter. As he was driving, Lipsha asked if he knew June, which of course he did. They continued to talk about her until Lipsha asked if he had actually killed that state trooper. Gerry never gave a firm yes or no answer. Gerry asked for Lipsha’s story. He told him about never having a place like his home on the reservation and how Albertine is the only girl he ever trusted. Lipsha shut his lights off, Gerry could secretly sneak into Canada. He didn’t turn them back on until he reached the highway again. He knew the only place for him was home.
Analysis: This chapter shows the next generation of Chippewa kids and what their life is turning out life. Obviously King and Lynette are losing their sons support with their arguments and drinking. Lipsha’s life is just beginning. He finally knows the truth as to who his parents are. He realizes the reservation is the only home he will ever have. Gerry has finally found freedom in Canada and will hopefully reunite with Dot and Shawn.
Books about love and true feelings are my favorite types. Whether it is a real memoir or a fictional story, these books continuously keep my eyes glued to the pages. Love Medicine had copious amounts of characters and side stories that built up the general feel to the story. Each chapter was packed with heart-ache, excitement, love, and some scares mixed in between. It was extremely well written and I would recommend this story to everyone.
Like most of the literature I read, Love Medicine’s chapters constantly switched narrators. This allows the story to not just follow what happens to one character and what that one character thinks. Readers learn a broad range of facts and information. This creates a more realistic feel for me because in real life, people interact with so many people a day. Having a book where you’re listening to multiple characters, giving the book an aura of actual reality. Also, in Love Medicine each character had such a unique personality and take on things that starting a new chapter was actually exciting, like you were meeting a new person. Different narrators give a very special feel for books such as this one.
Another interesting characteristic about this book was that during the reading, the reader is literally flowing through time. The book starts at 1985 for the first chapter and the next chapter starts in 1934. This allows the reader to follow the same characters through their entire lives. This mixed with the changing characters can get confusing, because there are a lot of characters, but without it readers would not be able to get as attached and into the characters lives and personalities. After reading a few chapters and using the family tree in the front of the book, it becomes very easy to “join” the family.
My last and favorite part of the book is all of the different kinds of love that are discussed in the book. There is love between husband and wives, love between mothers and their children, love between a man and his mistress. The list goes on and on. It has taught me that even if you do not succeed in one area of love, you will always have some one to rely on who does love you, be it family, friends, etc. This book is a wonderful example of love, life, faith, sex, marriage, and change. Everyone will be able to find something in this book that touches them or something they can relate to. It is a generally all around amazing book, that everyone should consider reading.
This is the second chapter told in the point of view of Albertine Johnson, who never returned to the reservation after she ran away. She is playing cards in a bar with Gerry Nanapush, Lulu’s eldest son, and Dot Adare. Albertine tells the reader that Gerry had gotten Dot pregnant on a conjugal visit six months earlier during his previous stay in prison. Dot is a very feisty woman who got angry with Albertine for sitting with Gerry. Dot offered Albertine a job at a truck weighing station where Albertine actually measured the trucks and Dot was hired to over look her work. Near July the little booth they sat in became unbearable from the heat and Dot was close to giving birth. We soon learn that Gerry Nanapush was shortly captured after their night in the bar. He was arrested for breaking out and claims that no prison can hold a Chippewa. He would always search for Dot once he escaped by soon would be seen by the neighbors and arrested again. He was originally arrested because of a drunken fight between himself and a cowboy ” to settle the question of whether a Chippewa was also a nigger.” Gerry preceded to kick the cowboy in his groin. He was then thrown in jail because a doctor has testified that the cowboy’s fertility might be impaired. Gerry said he believed in justice and this is why he belonged with his family. Winter came and Albertine and Dot were still measuring trucks. Dot knew the baby was coming soon and was worried that Gerry wouldn’t be able to break out in time. But, of course, Gerry arrived just in time to hug his wife and run away together. Albertine was left alone to her job for some time, constantly thinking about the life that Dot and Gerry would have from now on. Gerry came to get Albertine when Dot was having her baby. Once in the hospital, police showed up looking for Gerry, but he escaped through a window and falling with tremendous force and hitting the roof of the cop car. He escaped once again. Dot went back to the weight station with her new baby girl Shawn. With a few weeks left of work, they heard that Gerry had been caught again and had by accident killed a State Trooper.
Analysis: Alberitne’s story continued in this chapter and it is the last we will hear for her until 1985 when her Aunt June dies. She has found a grown up job off of the reservation even though she is still keeping in touch with Chippewas. Dot and Gerry’s relationship is difficult, but Albertine seems to learn from it and hope for love of that sort. Even though, their relationship is obviously not perfect they show a different side to the fairy tale romance most girls dream of. Gerry would be the knight who rescuers his princess, Dot, except he is a escaped prisoner and she is a pregnant truck weigh-er.
Crown of Thorns (1981)
Told in third person, this chapter follows the downfall of Gordie Kashpaw, June’s husband. he took his first drink a month after her death and it continued to get worse. He couldn’t eat, couldn’t get his hands to stay still, maybe from his recent addition or the loss he felt from losing June. He was stuck on the side of the road, needing a drink and wanting to go home. Once home, he called a man looking for alcohol but with no money, Royce credited him one dollars worth of wine. Memories continued to flash through his mind even after he had finished off all the bottles. He even began talking aloud and said June’s name. This scared him because he had always been told not to speak to the dead because they could answer. He continues to look around the house remembering time he had had with June, when he believes he sees her face in the window. He was shocked once again when the lights went out and he saw her again in the bedroom, turning the sheets and arranging her perfumes. He ran from the house got in his car and drove for miles. Ignoring his speed and his surroundings, he hit a doe. He believed he could sell it to someone from a bottle, so he shoved the deer into the back seat and continued to drive. It rustled and woke with a start. Out of fear he slammed the deer between the eyes with a large crowbar. He pulled over because of his shaking and suddenly had a moment of clarity. He believed he had just killed June.
The chapter changed to the story of a nun who awakens in her convent from a very odd dream and, like many other nights, decides to play the clarinet in a quiet hallway. She heard only music until she heard a thud on a nearby window. She asked who was there but no one answered until she asked “what do you want?” for the second time. Gordie replied that he needed a confession and eventually told her that he had killed his wife, June. She asked for him to take her to his car and show him his wife. As she slowly creeped up to the car and noticed it was a deer, Gordie had already ran far away crying loudly for the whole convent to hear.
Analysis: Love and sadness has made Gordie crazy, with help for all of his alcohol consumption. It is called Crown of Thornes, which is a reference to Christ. Gordie is a Christ figure for many possible reasons such as being in agony, probably around 33 years old, he was addicted to alcohol and always pined for wine which could also be construed as temptations from the devil. Gordie also had some kind of faith because he felt he needed to confess for “killing” June. His projection of killing June when he hit the deer could be a way of subconsciously displaying his own guilt he feels for her death. Maybe he thinks he had some part in it.
Love Medicine (1982)
This chapter is told by Lipsha Kashpaw, June’s unknowing son, who was adopted by Marie Kashpaw. He has been spending days with Marie at the Senior Citizens Center she has been living in. He says he has never done much with his life, but tells a story about saving his grandmother from the blood clots in her legs but just touching her. He says he had a touch and medicine flows through him. Lipsha says he has never been able to do anything for his grandpa, Nector Kashpaw. He talks about how Nector is always yelling in church. He yells his prays and his hymns. When asked why he says that is the only way God will hear then because he has been going deaf. The opens Lipsha’s eyes on religion. He says that one day he went looking for grandpa and his touch lead him to the laundry room where he saw Lulu and Nector kissing, during which Lulu’s wig fell off. Nector shortly forgot that Lipsha has witnessed the incident, which lead to Lipsha to believe that Nector was losing himself to Lulu. Grandma and Lipsha came up with an idea to make love medicine where you would eat two hearts of geese that were in love to make two people fall back in love. Lipsha set off trying to catch two of these geese, but soon got very cold and bored and decided to get hearts from the store and have them blessed. At the Convent, they refused to bless them so he did it himself. Grandma and Lipsha cooked them and Marie ate her heart and waited for Nector to eat his. Once at the table, Marie pushed Nector too much and he was suspicious about eating it. Once he ate it, he refused to sallow it, so Marie punched him in the back to make him eat it completely. Nector began to choke on the turkey heart and eventually died of suffocation. Out of shock, Marie fell too.
The doctors revived Marie, but could not save Nector. All friends and family came to Nector’s funeral, where Lipsha gained a new outlook on life. That night Marie stayed awake because she felt that Nector had not left yet because of the love medicine they had made. Lipsha waited up for him and felt his presence and he told him to leave and don’t come back. Lipsha came clean to Marie about what was actually in the love medicine and said that it was not the love medicines fault, it was his love for her that brought him back. Marie decided that Lipsha was her favorite and again prayed with her beads. She then gave her beads to Lipsha.
Analysis: Lipsha never knowing his real mother must have given him a special connection with Marie. He wanted to the best for her and that it what he tried to give her. Birds came up again to symbolize love and relationship, which ironically turned to death and destruction. Possibly showing falling from your nest/love. The death of his father figure greatly changed Lipsha throughout the rest of the story.
Flesh and Blood (1957)
Marie hears word that Sister Leopolda is dying and takes her daughter Zelda to the Convent to show Leoploda what an upstanding mother she had become. When they enter Leopolda, the room is very dark and the women had starch white hair with limbs the size of ropes. Leopolda makes a comment about how Marie was going to suffer in hell for leaving the Convent. The infuriated Marie into screaming the feelings she had kept inside her all these years. She asked Leopolda to bless her and her daughter. While blessing Marie she came at her with an iron spoon and again they got into a physical altercation and then left. Once back to the house, Marie told her daughter to change to help her with the cows. Zelda found the note Nector had left, saying he was leaving Marie. She handed it to its intended recipient who asked where she found it. Zelda replied the sugar and ran outside to tend to the cows. Marie begins to mull things over while she cooks dinner. She says she was not angry at Nector because it was all too surreal. Marie realized that Zelda had gone to find her father, like she never would have done. Instead of welcoming her despair, she waxes the floor in her kitchen in the expensive dress she had wore the the Convent that morning. Once done she hears Zelda and Nector come up the steps. She realized Nector’s letter was still in her pocket and replaced it on the kitchen table, under the salt can. As Nector approached the door she made him wait outside until the wax was set, but as he took his first steps inside, Marie couldn’t bear it and pulled him inside.
Analysis: This chapter is the events of last chapter told from the point of view of Marie. She attempted to create a perfect image of herself all throughout this chapter. For Leopolda, she dressed herself up and brought her favorite child along with her to flaunt her new life. She was shot down when Sister Leopolda mocked her dress and harassed her and her family for being Indian. Marie attempted perfection again after the loss of her husband to Lulu. She kept her best dress on, made the family a huge dinner, and waxed the floor. This give the impression that nothing can harm her. She is a strong woman who can deal with anything and still have a smile on her face. She is reaching for an unattainable goal here, which might be why she let Nector back into the house. She sneakily placed the letter under the salt can to keep Nector guessing forever, whether or not she had read the letter. She could have done this to hopefully have him feel guilty for what he had done.
A Bridge (1973)
Zelda’s daughter, Albertine, had run away from home at 15 years old to the city of Fargo. After exiting the bus, she sees a tall Indian man walking down the street. She thinks he might have been from her reservation. She silently follows him down the streets and looses him in a crowd. After finding him again, he realizes she has been following and turns to face her. He seems to like her and crosses the street to meet her. They realize they are familiar with one another and decide to head to a bar to get a drink. Henry Jr. Lamartine drinks a lot that night, having just come back from the war, and together they leave the bar for a hotel. Once there, Henry tries to seduce Albertine into bed with him. This scares her and she locks herself in the bathroom, saying she needed to take a shower. Eventually Henry begins to talk to her through the bathroom door, recalling war memories in his drunken state. He opens the door to find her fully clothed, sitting on the floor surrounded by the contents of her bag. He asks her to come to bed and promises he will not try anything because he is too drunk. They prepared herself for bed and folded her jeans and socks on the end of the bed. They both pretended to fall asleep until Albertine unbuttoned her shirt and gave her virginity to Henry. That morning she woke up not remembering a thing. She fell off of the bed in fright and awoke Henry. She approached her and she realized he was crying.
Analysis: Both Albertine and Henry Jr. found comfort in each other whether it was a sober need or not. They both let go and had one night where it was all they really needed. Neither of them saw it each other after this, so it really was a special night for both of them. This may have been why Henry was crying. He had just returned from a lonely tour in Vietnam and maybe only needed some human interaction to feel wanted or feel at home again.
The Red Convertible (1974)
This chapter is told by Henry Jr.’s brother, Lyman Lamartine, who recalls a time when they purchased a red convertible. That summer they went across the country in that car. Lyman tells a story of when they met a girl and let her hitch hike with her all the way back to her home in Alaska. They stayed with her until fall begin to come. Lyman told her it was time for them to leave, but she attempted coerce them to stay by showing them her hair which is always in two neat buns. Once she took her hair down it fell on the way to the ground, but the boys still decided to leave. They traveled through many other states until returning home. Henry was immediately drafted into the army upon their return. He left on Christmas in 1970. Lyman sent him several letters but he only received two before Henry was captured by the enemies. During Henry’s absence Lyman worked very hard on the car because all of their traveling had left it hardly running. Three years later, Henry finally came home and gave Lyman his key to the convertible. Lyman describes Henry as different, often dazing off in front of the color TV Lyman had bought for his mother Lulu. He never said much until Lyman brought up the car, which he had recently destroyed again in hopes to bring the old Henry back. Henry finally brought up the appearance of the car, which he claimed he be able to fix. Repairing the car helped bring the old Henry back and even smiles in a picture their younger sister Bonita takes. Henry eventually fixes the car and takes a ride to a river. Once there Henry gives the keys to Lyman admitting that he knew Lyman had destroyed the car to help him. They began talking and joking like it was four years ago. They laugh so hard that Henry had to cool off. He jumps into the river and he lets the current take him. Lyman cannot find him so he drives the car into the river.
Analysis: This chapter gives an insight into what emotions Henry showed to Albertine in the previous. He was very damaged from his stay in Vietnam, not only toward women but toward everyone in life. This also brought extensive pain toward Lyman who makes many excuses as to what happens that day, never accepting the excuse and refusing to look at the picture taken with his brother that day.
The Beads (1948)
Marie Kashpaw decides to adopt her niece June after she was found in a bush along with her mother’s body. Marie did not want to adopt June originally because she had many children who she already couldn’t take care of. One of the days after she adopted June, her other kids were playing that June had stolen their horse and had to be hung. Once Marie found this out, she bolted from the house and saved June from the homemade noose. The kids defense was that June wanted to be hung and even told them to pull it tighter before they “hoisted” her up. After June was saved by Marie, she called her a “damn old bitch” and wanted to move in with her Uncle Eli. During this time, Nector was constantly gambling and drinking his home-made wine and was never there for Marie or the children. Marie said she never prayed, but she did touch “the beads”. She would never look at them, only touch them because when she was young she vowed she would never beg for God ever again.
In the Second part of this chapter, Nector’s mother came to visit Marie and her son. Rushes Bear was a very tough woman. When she arrived, she already knew that Marie was pregnant. They continued to get into arguements until Marie threatened to kick Rushes Bear out, but she replied she had no where else to go. Things settled down then and Marie went into labor. This baby was born in very cold weather and Nector finally came around to witness the birth of his child. They called Fleur Pillager to help with the labor because Marie was sure that she would die. After the birth of their son, Nector offered Fleur Pillager money, but when he wouldn’t take it, he offered it to her mother. She refused and when asked why she said she has no son, only one daughter. Nector laughed this off by saying that Marie is only a Lazarre. Rushes Bear replied that Nector shamed her. This bonded Marie and Rushes Bear forever.
Analysis: This chapter explores Marie’s sense of family and religion. Despite not wanting June, Marie builds a strong connection to her and when giving birth she actually hopes for a girl, who will be like June. Obviously June feels a little sore on the religion topic because of the torture she went though during her stay at the convent. But the fact that she still has faith in God, shown by her rubbing her rosary beads, shows that she is a real faithful and forgiving person. This could be why she stayed with Nector for so long, even though he was a drunken cheating mess. Her relationship with Rushes Bear was an important part in her life since she never really knew her mother and originally never had any acceptance from Rushes Bear. This chapter help display the real Marie Kashpaw.
Lulu’s Boys (1957)
This chapter begins with Beverly Lamartine coming to visit Lulu and her sons. She remembers the last time she had seem him, at her husband’s funeral. They were brothers and Bev had slept with Lulu directly after Henry’s funeral. Beverly returned to Lulu because he believed that he was the father of her son, Henry Jr. Both Lulu and Beverly reminisced about a strip poker game they had played with Henry before they had married. Lulu joked that was how she decided which of them to marry. Lulu introduced Bev to Henry Jr. and he asked Bev to see a bird tattoo on his arm that he had strategically placed so it could fly. Bev’s plan to claim Henry Jr. had turned to nothing after meeting him. Lulu and Bev had dinner and slept together again that night. The chapter ended with the quote, “The wings didn’t beat as hard as they used to, but the bird still flew.”
Analysis: The bird was very symbolic in this chapter, both in his tattoo and the last sentence of the chapter. His tattoo might have symbolized his need for flight and escape, which is why he moved off of the reservation to the Twin Cities. The last sentence could symbolize his want for a nest and eggs. In this case the bed he shared with Lulu and the egg being Henry Jr.
The Plunge of the Brave (1957)
Nector Kashpaw beings this chapter by talking about all of the types of offers he has had. He talks about how he has never had to search for a job because they were always open for him. He talks about one job where he was a dying Indian in a Hollywood movie and another job where he was painted naked jumping off a cliff. It was titled The Plunge of the Brave. He then talks about how he has always had offers from women. He refers to sex as candy and mentions his former love Lulu Lamartine who he met in boarding school at a dance. He loved her until Marie came along. Life had passed him by in a drunken haze and that is what shocked him into sobriety. In July of 1952, two giant trucks full of butter arrived for the tribe. They were unable to deliver it to everyone, when Lulu drove by. Nector asked Lulu if he could use her car to deliver the butter to everyone. She agrees and they spend all day delivering butter, hardly saying a word. They spend the night on a hill side and start their five year long affair in her car. Every Saturday for five years Nector would climb into Lulu’s window at night, continuing their secret relationship. Lulu had gotten pregnant with Lyman Lamartine, Nector’s son. Beverly Lamartine had come to town and this had worried Nector. Nector decided to never return to Lulu after that. The next day, as Tribal Council President, Nector had to sign a paper saying that the government could build a factory on Lulu’s land. That night he tried to get into Lulu’s window but she called her dogs on him. He then decided to leave Marie and give Lulu a better life. He wrote each a note telling them the situation and locked them in his briefcase and spent the night with Marie. That morning he leaves the note for Marie on their kitchen table and leaves to give Lulu her letter. He looks for Lulu but she isn’t there, so he decides to wait for her to return on her back steps. As he is waiting, he smokes and rolls cigarettes continuously. When she doesn’t return, he crumples up her letter and throws it on the ground. His nervous hands fumble and he lets the cigarette fall onto the balled up paper, which sets the entire house ablaze. As he watches in amazement and suddenly sees a younger Marie in the woods who tells him to leave with her.
Analysis: This is the highlight of the book, completely displaying the love triangle between Lulu, Nector, and Marie. Nector feels the pressure of having to deal with two relationships and must make difficult decisions. He thinks he knows that his heart wants many different times, but is never really sure. Towards the end of the chapter, he finally decides Marie because Lulu was not an option any more. This is the most important chapter in the book.
The World’s Greatest Fisherman (1981)
In the first section of this chapter, the reader meets June Morrissey, a young Chippewa woman waiting at a bus stop. She catches the eye of a man inside of a bar and agrees to have a drink with him. They then proceed to have sex in his truck and when Andy falls asleep June leaves and decides to walk back to her Uncle Eli’s house on the Indian Reservation where she was born. It is Easter and it is snowing harder than it has in 40 years according to the text, but June continues to walk home.
Section two is told in the point of view of June’s niece Albertine Johnson. She just received news of her aunt’s death from a letter written by her mother two weeks after June’s death. Her mother waited to tell her because she did not want to not interrupt Albertine’s studies. She doesn’t talk to her mother for two months because of this. After finishing the letter, Albertine reminisces about June and her childhood with her mother Zelda. She returns to the reservation shortly after this and meets up with the family she left behind, always telling stories about June. She was raised by Albertine’s Uncle Eli and married her cousin Gerry Kashpaw and had a son named King Kashpaw. King is married to a woman named Lynette and had a baby named King Jr. King Kashpaw had gained a generous amount of money from June’s life insurance and bought a truck, which has created a significant amount of tension between King and his wife.
The third section of this chapter begins with Lipsha Morrisey coming over to Albertine’s family’s house at the reservation. He was adopted by Albertine’s grandparents, but unknowingly he is June’s son and King’s only brother. Everyone but Lipsha is aware of this fact. They continue to reminisce and Lipsha brings up a memory about a skunk. This leads to an argument between King and Lynette. He becomes very abusive even with their baby in the room. Lipsha storms out and Albertine follows her down the hill, where they talk about many things and watch the Northern Lights.
The last section begins with Lipsha and Albertine talking and drinking beer while watching the northern lights. They decide to leave and return back to the house when they hear yelling. Albertine tries to stop King and Lynette’s fighting and gets into a physical altercation with King. Lipsha had not come back to help Albertine with the situation. King and Lynette both left in his new car, leaving the baby with Albertine, alone in the house.
Analysis: This chapter introduces the reader to the tricky maze of people who live on the reservation. They are all connected in some way, even if they don’t know it. You discover how the family each member of the family feel and interact with each other. Not many have decent relationships. For example, Lipsha and King are actually brothers but cannot stand to be in the same room as one another. No one had talked to June in years and really only talked fondly of her because she had died. King and Lynette’s relationship are like the elephant in the room for most of the family. They all seem to worry and care for them but decide against saying anything, like most families do when there is a serious issue. Albertine also seems to be the peace cheaper between her cousins, which may be why her and Lipsha watch the Northern Lights together. Lipsha craves peace, something he has never had in life as an adopted child who never belonged.
Saint Marie (1934)
A fourteen year old Marie Lazarre starts the chapter by walking up the hill from the reservation to the Sacred Heart Convent. She is being closely taught by Sister Leopolda who believes she sees the devil following her in the convent. During school Marie even believes that both her and Leopolda hear the devil in the closet waiting to drag Marie to hell. Leopolda takes Marie under her wing and brings her up to her bedroom where they store the food for the other nuns. They had to make bread for dinner and as Marie was trying to roll the dough, she heard the devil once again. She tried everything she could to keep him away, and in doing so, she dropped the flour cup under the iron stove. As she bent down to grab the cup, Sister Leopolda attempted to burn the devil away by dumping scalding hot water over Marie’s back. After bringing the food to the others in the convent, they went back to the kitchen where Marie attempted to leave. Leopolda would not let Marie leave and trapped her in the long oven they use to cook the loaves of bread with a giant fork used to poke the bread. Marie has the idea to kick her and let her fall into the oven as a way to escape. Instead, Marie was stabbed by Leopolda in the hand and passed out. Thirty minuted later, she awakens to find herself being treated as a saint. Leopolda had told the other nuns that the wound had just appeared and it was a miracle.
Analysis: Marie wished to become a nun to change the way everyone thought about her family. Being a Lazarre was like being low class because she was white. The personification of the devil gave the chapter a touchable evil. Marie was said to have the devil always following her and the only way to be free of him was to stay in the convent, which she of course eventually leaves. This may have been foreshadowing of the evils that will follow her for the rest of her life. Marie obviously receives many wounds while at the convent. She is no doubt a Christ figure, by the torment she was put through the and the injuries given to her from Sister Leopolda. While in the oven Marie calls it ones personal hell as it is hot and fiery. This gives their fight a heaven versus hell aspect to it,Marie being Jesus and Leopolda being the devil.
Wild Geese (1934)
With a bundle of dead geese in his arm, Nector Kashpaw is walking into town in the attempt to sell his kill. He is thinking about the girl he has been seeing Lulu Lamartine, when he sees Marie running down the same hill he is walking on. He stops her and notices she has a dirty pillowcase rapped around her hand. He sees the letters SHC and believes she has stolen the pillowcase from the convent. He attempts to get the pillowcase back physically by twisting her scalded arm. She winces but trips him so he falls to the ground with the sleeve of her blouse gripped in her hand. In the attempt to get out of his grip, he tackles her to the ground. When he cannot control himself any longer, he touches her under her skirt and realizes he has been weakened. Nector sees that the pillowcase is bloody and is stopping a wound. They then sit together holding hand until the sun goes down.
Analysis: This chapter gives the reader a brief introduction to the three main characters of the book. This scene was Marie’s way of getting back at Sister Leopolda because this scene takes place on the hill overlooked by the Convent. Nector begins to only care about Marie, forgetting Lulu and the opinions of the nuns on the hill. This scene could also be displayed as heaven and earth. The convent obviously being heaven and Marie and Nector acting as humans do.
The Island (?)
Lulu Lamartine comes back to the reservation after leaving many years ago. She returns to meet her father’s new wife. Nanapush and Margaret, or Rushes Bear, have an interesting marriage fueled by tension. Margaret hates Lulu and offers for her to sleep in the shed. After a while Lulu cannot stand it and had found out about Marie and Nector, so she thought of the idea to visit Moses Pillager, her hermit cousin that lives alone on an island. Even against her parents wishes, she went to go see him. Moses lived with many, many cats and wore his clothes backward. They eventually fell in love and when Marie became pregnant. She realized she could not stay on the island anymore and asked Moses to accompany her to the reservation. He refused so she traveled back home alone.
Analysis: This was the first of Lulus many husbands and sons. It was symbolic then when she secretly left his cave and ended their relationship, it happened to be winter.
list 10 to 20 vocab words with definitions and page numbers:
- cajoled, pg. 22: v- coax or wheedle
- potshot, pg. 45: n- random shot, attack, etc.
- meringue, pg. 68: n- egg whits and sugar beaten stiff
- poplars, pg. 72: n- rapidly growing, salicaceous trees from the genus Populus, characterized by the strange growth of their branches
- homelier, pg. 85: adj- (1) plain or (2) plain or unattractive
- stinger, pg. 88: n- a long horizontal post used for structural purposes
- vise, pg. 92: n- device with adjustable jaws for holding an object firmly
- dasher, pg. 101: n- a type of plunger with paddles on one end used for stirring liquids in a churn, ice cream freezer, etc.
- inculcated, pg. 106: – fix in the mind, as by insistent urging
- fledgling, pg. 107: n- young bird just able to fly
- chidingly, pg 110: v- to express disapproval of; scold
- pennyante, pg. 111: adj- involving a trifling amount of money, small in amount
- repose, pg. 178: v,n- to lie or rest
- tedium, pg. 202: n- being tedious or irksome
- addled, pg. 204: v,adj- make or become confused
- splayed, pg. 215: v,adj- spread out, expand, or extend
- catalpas, pg. 218: n- tree with heart shaped leaves
- afghans, pg. 219: n- crocheted or knitted blanket
- candelabrum, pg. 220: n- large branched candle stick