Louise Erdrich uses magical realism to describe life in the here and now an in between. Here Anglo and Chippewa Indian culture collide on the American prairie sometime in the 1920s. Erdrich’s style of magical realism more nearly resembles the style of Latin American writers like Gabriel García Márquez and Jorge Luis Borges who both incorporate the magic, mythic, and religious histories of a culture with the events of everyday life.The result is a broader and, in some ways, a more accurate and encompassing representation of the essence of a community.
Grotesque elements might be in the form of description of the mysterious Fleur Pillager, starting with her name. Fleur means flower in French; it is also associated with the fleur-de-lis, the armorial insignia for French nobility. Pillager is one who pillages, takes things with destructive force, as in a war. As a Pillager, she is already accorded cunning and certain power, but Fleur stands particularly close to the thin edge that divides the spirit world from the human, physical one. Look at Fleur’sappearance, her relationship with Misshepeshu, the legends that spring up around her. From this vantage point, she recognizes the power of Fleur: somehow Pauline knows that Fleur’s “fifth toes were missing,” and she remarks ofthe men at the slaughterhouse that
“[t]hey were blinded, they were stupid, they only saw her in the flesh.”
While she initially fears Fleur, motherless Pauline comes to adore her for the attention Fleurpays her. Pauline’s insight into the nature of Fleur’s and Chippewa beliefs turns a story of gambling,revenge-rape, and a “fair-minded” tornado into a clash of cosmic forces.