One of the most important Native American authors writing in the United States as of 2005, Louise Erdrich is famous for her unique storytelling technique that draws from her knowledge of Chippewa (or Ojibwa) life and legend. Although Erdrich is a poet and nonfiction writer as well, her most prominent work involves episodes from the lives of several Chippewa families whose roots are in the Turtle Mountain Reservation in North Dakota. These richly drawn characters, whose lives intertwine across generations, have filled five novels and many short stories. In her individual style that alternates between a variety of first-person narrative voices, Erdrich captures the essence of these characters and their viewpoints as they tell the stories of their lives.
Erdrich draws much of her material from the stories of her Chippewa mother, and one of the first characters she developed out of these childhood tales was Fleur Pillager, the subject of Erdrich’s 1986 short story “Fleur.” In this story about sexuality and female power, a seemingly timid and insecure narrator describes the time Fleur spends in the small town of Argus, North Dakota. After Fleur is raped by the men who work with her in a butcher’s shop, she is avenged by their mysterious deaths inside a frozen meat locker. Although “Fleur” was adapted and included as the second chapter of Erdrich’s 1988 novel Tracks, the subject of this entry is the original short story, as published in Esquire magazine in August of 1986. As of 2005, it was available in short story collections, including Esquire’s Big Book of Fiction (2002), edited by Adrienne Miller.