Love Medicine Summary and Analysis Revised Edition Chapter 4
by Louise Erdrich

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Summary and Analysis Revised Edition Chapter 4

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

Lulu was abandoned by her mother as a child. Missing her greatly, Lulu rebels, eventually running away from the government school where she is constantly under some form of punishment. Her uncle Nanapush writes to her, and Lulu goes to the reservation to live with him and his wife Margaret, who calls herself “Rushes Bear.”

Rushes Bear does not like Lulu and often criticizes her. Having raised all of her own children (including Nector and Eli), Rushes Bear was looking forward to time alone with her husband when Lulu, the "intruder," shows up. Despite Rushes Bear’s contempt for her, Lulu forms a close bond with Nanapush, viewing him as the father she never had. In retaliation, Rushes Bear frequently goes to the Kashpaw land on the reservation, staying for days, weeks, even months at a time. Lulu is content with this arrangement and resents Rushes Bear’s occasional returns. One time, Lulu asks Nanapush about his “love medicine,” his power that always brings Rushes Bear back. Nanapush states that he lives on Indian time rather than the white man’s, stopping in his lovemaking to eat and regain strength before he continues rather than getting it all over at once as the white man does.

Lulu notices that Nector—Nanapush and Rushes Bear’s son—starts to take a romantic interest in her. Nanapush and Rushes Bear both warn her that Nector is also seeing Marie. Lulu begins to show signs of jealousy.

During one of Rushes Bear’s visits home, Lulu looks out across the nearby lake to the island where her cousin, Moses Pillager, lives. She has heard stories of this wild relative and becomes intrigued enough to want to go to the island for a visit. Rushes Bear warns her that Moses is too close a relative and will only lead to trouble. Nanapush does not object quite so strongly, so Lulu boats over to the island and confronts Moses.

At first Moses is uncommunicative, but Lulu persists. She forces him to show her some hospitality and eventually she has made her place. The two become lovers, and Lulu stays for several months. It is an idyllic existence with just the two of them, and Lulu becomes pregnant with her first child, Gerry. She is worried about giving birth, especially if she has to conduct the birth by herself without a midwife. Yet she stays with Moses, knowing that eventually she will leave both the island and Moses behind.

In this additional chapter, Lulu's background is expanded. Abandoned as a child and raised by a loving uncle and contemptuous aunt, Lulu becomes more understandable in her constant search for love and acceptance, which she unfortunately finds in a string of usually unsuitable men.

The abandonment that Lulu experiences as a child contributes to her alienation and suppressed bitterness against the world. She misses her mother, who inexplicably deserted her and left her to the care of the government school. Her rebellion is linked to her lack of a place to call home, which she does not have until she is taken in by her uncle Nanapush and his wife Rushes Bear. Though Rushes Bear has little affection for her, aside from an eventual appreciation for her cooking, Lulu finds in Nanapush the parent she needed and longed to have. His gentle wisdom and unconditional love give her a sense of stability. It is Nanapush’s example that later provides her with a model for her own parenting, with mixed results in her eight sons and one daughter. Yet despite the difficulties, Lulu manages to make a home for her offspring, until Nector destroys it accidentally.

Her love for Nector begins at this point, when she meets him as a teenager. Though he is clearly smitten with Lulu, he goes instead to Marie and eventually marries...

(The entire section is 1,014 words.)