How can we describe the family influence in Love Medicine?

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Felicita Burton eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In Louise’s Erdrich’s novel, the intertwining strands of family love and obligation provide much of the plot structure. The ways that individuals move away from their birth families and form new families, and the kinds of family-like but socially unsanctioned relationships are equally important for Love Medicine’s characters. Erdrich also implies that those who struggle to reconnect with their families, or are left isolated or alienated from social bonds often feel incomplete; some of those characters completely rupture their ties, through taking their own life. The extent to white community, especially through shared Native American heritage, can expand or substitute for immediately kinship relations is also explored throughout the novel. We see this especially in Gerry Nanapush, as he embarking on the journey of political activism through the American Indian Movement (AIM).

Going back to the earlier generations, Erdrich shows how one person’s decision can have lasting...

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