Study Guide

The Bingo Palace

by Louise Erdrich

The Bingo Palace Themes

Social Concerns / Themes

Writers have been known to extend trilogies and tetralogies, to change their vision of completeness, but it looks as if Erdrich is serious in closing out her tetralogy on Chippewa life with The Bingo Palace. While Love Medicine (1984), The Beet Queen (1986), and Tracks (1988) have some characters that occur in more than one novel, Erdrich in The Bingo Palace brings back characters from all previous books when possible in the flesh; when not, in memory or dream fantasy. The novel closest to The Bingo Palace is Love Medicine (please see separate entry); Lipsha Morrissey is a major character in the latest novel, but Lyman Lamartine, Albertine Johnson, Marie Kashpaw, Lulu Lamartine, Gerry Nanapush, June Morrissey, and Zelda Kashpaw reprise their roles from the earlier novel. Fleur Pillager from Tracks in her nineties is a real, a ghostly, and a mythic presence in this closing novel, while Dot Adare is remembered in The Bingo Palace from her roles in The Beet Queen and Love Medicine and Russell Kashpaw of The Beet Queen has a casual role in Erdrich's latest major work as a tattooer with back problems. In addition, Erdrich makes an effort to summarize actions from earlier novels in The Bingo Palace. The book is loaded with artfully presented exposition. Since the four books together present imaginatively approximately a century of tribal history, readers can expect some...

(The entire section is 597 words.)