Summary and Analysis Revised Edition Chapter 14

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In 1993, Louise Erdrich published a revised and expanded edition ofLove Medicine. Four chapters were added, each further exploring the novel's characters.

After Nector’s death, Marie finds much to keep her busy. Cleaning house, she sorts through Nector’s belongings, deciding what to keep and what to give away. Among his belongings she finds a decorated rawhide bag containing a peace pipe. She examines it carefully, caressing it to her face, and then puts it away for Lipsha.

Awakening the next morning, with a full day of canning and preserving to do, she looks out the window and sees her son Gordie walking into the yard. He is obviously sick, and he lies down on the ground to sleep. She takes out a quilt, made from scraps of old clothes, to cover him. Marie then sees that he is not really sick but suffering from the effects of alcoholism. After she covers him, Marie goes back to bed.

When she awakens, Marie finds Gordie sitting in the kitchen, getting himself something to eat. She sees him in his dilapidated condition, in a shirt covered with feces, wine, and vomit. She has him change into some spare clothes, but he objects to the shirt that she gives him because it belonged to June, his former wife. Still reeling from alcohol withdrawal, he staggers around the room, finally passing out. Marie continues with her canning.

When Gordie awakens, he asks his mother for a drink. She protests and says that she does not keep alcohol in the house. Gordie says he thought she used to take a little whiskey with her milk, but then he remembers that was a story he had heard about the Mother Superior at the convent.

Gordie, desperate for a drink, demands that Marie give him one. When he attempts to make a lunge at her, she slices his hand with the paring knife she is using to cut up vegetables. Binding his hand, Gordie falls into a reverie of when he married June.

Gordie and June were cousins, and they slipped away from the family to be married. Driving along to find a honeymoon spot, they come across an abandoned-looking resort. They convince the manager to let them stay in one of the cottages although it has no “amenities,” namely bathrooms, running water, or beds. Situated on the lake, it nevertheless becomes an idyllic spot for the couple.

While Gordie is slumbering, Marie steps outside. Soon she hears a racket and goes in to find that Gordie has punctured a can of Lysol and drunk the contents. She again cleans up her home, Gordie having knocked over much of the furniture. Gordie goes out into the darkness, while Marie waits, knowing that he will soon be dead.

Marie Kashpaw stands out in Love Medicine as the lone survivor. Every character around her succumbs to traumas and dramas, yet Marie stands firm. Even with the deaths of her family members, Marie continues to struggle, seemingly helpless to prevent loss despite her best efforts.

Her husband Nector has recently died, clinging to his long-term mistress, Lulu, to the end. Despite her grandson Lipsha’s efforts to secure Nector’s love exclusively for his wife through the love medicine, Nector continues to see Lulu, even if it is for candy that is denied him because of his diabetes. Yet Marie loves Nector, forgives him, and honors him even after his death. Finding the peace pipe hidden among his belongings is symbolic of the peace that has come to Marie at Nector’s death. Later, she will even make amends with Lulu, offering...

(This entire section contains 1034 words.)

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to care for her following Lulu's eye surgery. Marie’s peace comes not from her family's happiness, which seems so elusive, but from inside herself through love and forgiveness and strength.

Having lost Nector and previously June, the niece she raised as her own daughter, Marie must now face the loss of Gordie, her firstborn son and the ex-husband of June. Repeating the pattern of self-destruction, Gordie returns home embattled by alcoholism. Facing Gordie’s condition simply as what it is, Marie tries to help him in a passive manner to fight the disease. Yet Gordie insists in searching for one last drink, finally resorting to Lysol, which kills him.

The stoic acceptance of Gordie’s dying shows that Marie is used to loss and sadness. She seems to be little surprised that Gordie should die this way. Perhaps blaming Nector for setting the example of a wandering and dissatisfied life, Marie looks around her and sees nothing but grief, yet she looks without grieving. Loss is a part of life, even if it is brought about by one’s own actions.

Gordie dies looking backward to the time when he is happiest: his honeymoon with June. Marrying against the family’s wishes, the two elope and search for a place to celebrate their new lives. All they can find is a run-down, “decommissioned” resort. Symbolic of their coming lives, their honeymoon suite is bare and featureless. Sex is an effort, but must be done. The emptiness for the young couple has begun early.

The title of the chapter, “Resurrection,” is symbolic in two ways. First, it refers to Gordie’s return, which means that the resurrection will be short-lived and temporary. He has returned from the death of his wanderings to meet the death of reality. Thus resurrection is not seen as an event of hope, but of illusion. True resurrection in Love Medicine is not possible: death can only be delayed, never overcome.

From another point of view, Marie’s return to life, so to speak, after Nector’s death shows that life continues, that strength cannot be conquered by death, one’s own or that of others. Marie is not destroyed by the loss of her life partner, nor is she defeated by his continuing infidelity. While sinking into grief following his death, Marie rises again and life goes on. Clothing needs to be sorted out, vegetables need to be canned, alcoholic sons need to be attended to. Marie’s resurrection is born out of personal strength and determination rather than a divine act.


Summary and Analysis Revised Edition Chapter 4


Summary and Analysis Revised Edition Chapter 16