Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich: Story Review
A Spoonful of Water Helps the Medicine Go Down
Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich is a story about the lives of several families in the Chippewa tribe. Erdrich captures the struggles and triumphs of the characters in beautifully narrated prose. The majority of the book is written from the first person point of view, although there are a few chapters where the narrator is in the 3rd person. Using this interesting style, Erdrich is able to show all sides of a specific event from many different viewpoints. Another plus that this style brings is the way the reader can see the internal struggles of a character and is privy to information that is never spoken. The author also shows the struggle of the characters to become more than just an Indian and at the same time, keep their connection to nature and their native heritage. One of the main themes of this book is water. Throughout the book, water is seen as a tool for rejuvenation, a barrier between worlds, and a bringer of death.
At many points in the book characters us water as a way to clear their heads. This can be seen when June and Gordie on their honeymoon up to a small secluded lake. This is one of the only times in the book where the characters seemed genuinely happy because There was nothing to disturb their peace(p.270). This was a rare occurrence in the book that there would be nothing to disturb the scene. Living next to the lake, Gordie and June enjoy their honeymoon.
The most mysterious character in the entire book is a man named Moses Pillager. He lives outside the normal world, on an island deep in the woods. He is surrounded by water. This water acts as a barrier between the world of the Chippewa and the world of nature. When Lulu goes to visit him this is the wild scene she sees: Cats were lounging, sprinting, hunting, dozing on every warm log, on each heated outcrop. There were cats in the trees, in the moving waves of iron colored grass (p.76). This wild island is completely shut out to the outside world by a ring of water.
One of the most disturbing aspects of this book is the way that death, especially suicide, is dealt with. So many deaths happen that it seems to be a normal part of their lives. The drowning death of Henry Junior is one of the most vivid in the book. This is because Drowning was the worst death for a Chippewa to experiencethe drowned werent allowed into the next life but forced to wander forever (p.295). In this light, water has so much power. It takes life and keeps it from passing on. Another death that is associated with water is the death of June. The last line as June walks into the snow is: June walked over it (snow) like it was water and came home (p.7). June never made it home. She was engulfed by the snow and cold and died somewhere on the plains. After her death, she continued to haunt her family and especially her husband Gordie and her son King. This is because she too, like Henry Junior, was forced to wander after her death.
Love Medicine is a very powerful book. Reading it made me realize how8 different life on an Indian Reservation is when compared to my life. The way that Erdrich made the book span over 80 years, mapping out the entire lives of her characters, made me think of my own life and how short it seems. The book also shows the endurance of human nature. The characters in Love Medicine went through so much pain, anger, and suffering and still were able to move on and live out their lives. They did not know a life where nothing was wrong and they had just learned to deal with whatever came their way. In this sense, I think that the Chippewa culture is so much different than western culture, maybe even better. Something that I noticed throughout the book is that not many characters had obvious goals for their lives. A few of the characters strive to advance their stature in society but leaving the reservation was not in the goals of many. The majority of the characters stayed because they were connected by love, blood, and nature.
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A Spoonful of Water Helps the Medicine Go Down Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich is a story about the lives of several families in the Chippewa tribe. Erdrich captures the […]