Love Medicine Questions and Answers
by Louise Erdrich

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What does "love medicine" mean in the novel Love Medicine?

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Madelyn Truitt eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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"Love medicine" refers to a specific practice that is part of the indigenous belief system represented in the novel. "Medicine" is not necessarily related to substances taken for health (like aspirin or penicillin) but to actions taken to improve peoples' lives or have a specific effect. In a way the concept of "medicine" in the novel is a form of folk magic, and "love medicine" is a form of love spell. One of the examples of love medicine represented in the novel occurs when Lipsha wants to help his grandparents resolve their disputes and be in love again. He knows a bit about this tradition and thinks that killing a wild goose and feeding its heart to them would help them realize their love again, because wild geese mate for life. But in the end Lipsha gets lazy, and instead of going hunting for geese, he...

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Love Medicine is both the title of this novel and the theme that connects all fourteen of the short stories within the novel. Love medicine can be seen as a spiritual power that enables the characters facing bleak circumstances the ability to overcome those hardships even if only for a moments time. Not only are Erdrich’s characters trapped by racism and poverty on their reservation, but they are also plagued by alcoholism, broken families, and violence. These characters nevertheless discover forms of “love medicine” which help to sustain them.