Love Medicine Questions and Answers
by Louise Erdrich

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If there is a lesson to be learned from Love Medicine, what is it, and who learns this lesson?

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One of the lessons in Love Medicine is the power of tradition and the interconnectedness of the different Native American families in the book. In the chapter entitled "Love Medicine (1982)," Lipsha Morissey learns about the power of Chippewa tradition when his grandmother, Marie, tells him about "love medicine," a kind of Chippewa ritual. Though his attempt to use love medicine fails miserably at first, Lipsha realizes the power of his tradition and heritage. His grandfather dies when Lipsha tries to use a form of love medicine to bring his grandfather and grandmother back together; however, after death, Lipsha's grandfather visits Lipsha's grandmother. She then realizes that she and her deceased husband are still connected, so Lipsha's form of Chippewa faith and religious practice actually unites his grandparents. In addition, all of the extended family comes back to attend the grandfather's funeral, and, in this way, Chippewa faith also unites the family.

Lipsha believes in the form of religion that comes from his heritage and holds fast to this faith even when it fails. As he says, "Faith might be stupid, but it gets us through" (page 245-246). His faith keeps him from becoming depressed.  Embracing the tradition and faith of his Chippewa heritage, Lipsha decidedly rejects the Catholic practice that some of his family members have adopted over the years. The lesson he learns is that his Chippewa faith can provide him sustenance and unite his family in a way Catholicism could not. 

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