Love Medicine Summary and Analysis Chapters 5 – 6
by Louise Erdrich

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Summary and Analysis Chapters 5 – 6

New Characters
Henry Lamartine: Lulu Nanapush’s husband who committed suicide.

Beverly Lamartine: Henry’s brother who believes Henry Junior is his son.

Henry Junior: Born nine months after the funeral for Henry Lamartine, Henry Junior is Lulu’s son and possibly the son of Beverly.

Elsa: Beverly’s girlfriend at his home in the Twin Cities.

In 1957, Beverly returns to the reservation to try to claim Henry Junior, the boy he thinks is his son. During his brother’s funeral, Beverly had consoled the distraught Lulu, who had fallen into the open grave. Henry Junior was born nine months later. Beverly works selling after-school workbooks for children door-to-door and is quite successful. To make his pitch, he uses a photograph of Henry Junior, and although they have never met, he has grown very attached to the boy. While in the Twin Cities, Beverly has concocted fantasies of sweeping back home for Henry Junior, introducing him to urban life, and being adored by both Lulu and Henry Junior as a savior of sorts.

When Bev actually returns with the intent of taking Henry Junior, he must face reality. Henry Junior has seven brothers, and Lulu is a strong and determined woman. While discussing memories, Henry accidentally brings up the time Lulu outplayed Henry and Bev in strip poker and then decided which of the brothers she would marry. Overwhelmed with feelings of inadequacy, Beverly is happy when Henry Junior comes in to ask for a sandwich. But the boy, too, is strong-willed and almost scares Bev.

When Henry Junior leaves, Lulu approaches Bev, and he finds himself unable to resist. After succumbing to her charms, Beverly loses all sense of his plan and gives up on the idea of taking Henry Junior. He tries to leave Lulu’s house and return to his girlfriend, Elsa, but ends up asleep beside Lulu.

Nector narrates chapter six, which is also set in 1957. He is a lucky, handsome fellow, and jobs always seem to fall into his lap.

For example, after graduating high school, Nector was in a Hollywood movie briefly, but he quit because every part for Indians ended in death. Shortly afterward, a painter asked him to model for her. She demanded that he strip and raised her offer until he agreed. Then she painted a picture of a naked Indian leaping to his death from a cliff top, and called it The Plunge of the Brave. The picture was renowned and hung in the state capitol. Nector became angry that the only Indians the world wants are dead or dying, so he returned to the reservation.

Girls had always come easily to Nector, but he fell for Lulu Nanapush. However, when Marie Lazarre materialized—as related in chapter two—Nector could not seem to let her go, although he continued to fantasize about Lulu. Marie and Nector married, and in one year lost two babies. Then Marie began to take in all the foundling children on the reservation, and there were babies everywhere. The chaos eventually got to Nector.

In a moment of stillness and absence of demands, Nector realized that he was growing old. And in that moment, he thought of Lulu. Circumstances shortly thereafter brought him and Lulu together. Lulu had the only air-conditioned car in town, and on the hottest day of 1952, two semis full of surplus butter showed up. Nector pressed Lulu into delivering the butter with him. When they were done, Nector apologized to her for not coming all those years ago when he was distracted by Marie, and then they had a food fight with the butter, followed by sex.

When Nector returned home to Marie that night, she yelled at him for not bringing any butter home to their family. Nector began visiting Lulu once a week, sneaking into her house at night, and this lasted for five years. During this time, Lulu had a child, although Nector did not know if the son was his.

In 1957, Beverly Lamartine shows up and Lulu insinuates that if it weren’t for Marie and Nector’s relationship, she would not be considering Bev. Nector guesses that Lulu is going to marry Beverly....

(The entire section is 1,359 words.)