Love Medicine Sample Essay Outlines
by Louise Erdrich

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Sample Essay Outlines

  • Topic # 1
    The turkey hearts Lipsha feeds Grandma and Grandpa Kapshaw are the named love medicines in the novel Love Medicine. Love medicine is the ancient art of binding people to each other through the use of powerful tokens, amulets, or objects. Argue for the existence of at least one other item of “love medicine” in the book. What is it? Who does it bind? Does it fail? If so, does it fail in the same way the turkey hearts failed?

    I.Thesis Statement: The red convertible shared by Lyman and Henry Junior is used by Lyman as a form of love medicine. The brothers had experienced many postive things together while in the car, and Lyman tries to use that positive energy to make Henry Junior love Lyman the way he used to.

    II. The car could have strong positive powers, and thus could be used as a token in love medicine.
    A. The brothers experienced positive things together while driving around the U.S. in the car.
    B. Lyman has lavished love and attention on the car in Henry Junior’s absence.

    III. Henry Junior does not seem to love Lyman (or life) anymore, so love medicine might be needed.
    A. Henry Junior is apathetic and strange.
    B. Henry Junior does not engage with people or activities.
    C. Lyman cannot get through to Henry Junior.

    IV. Lyman acts to try to use the car to bind Henry Junior to him.
    A. Lyman damages the car in anticipation of Henry Junior finding it and feeling compelled to work on it.
    B. This tactic works, meaning that Lyman accurately gauged the power of the car to evoke action.

    V. The car evokes a powerful response in Henry Junior.
    A. Henry Junior is moved to action for the first time in months.
    B. After fixing the car, Henry Junior proposes that he and Lyman go for a drive together.
    C. At the river, Henry Junior tries to give Lyman the car. This indicates that there is a bond between them where the car is concerned.
    D. It is after the car is fixed that Henry leaps into the river, possibly suicidal.
    E. Lyman sends the car in after Henry Junior; he does not want to keep it.

    VI. The car fails as love medicine in a similar way to the turkey hearts.
    A. Both lead to the death of the one who is intended to be forced into love.
    B. Both cause the instigator of the love medicine (Grandma Kashpaw and Lyman) to feel remorseful for their attempt to force/coerce love.

    VII. Conclusion: The car could be another example of love medicine, used in the same way the turkey hearts were used. The car fails in a way similar to the turkey hearts.

  • Topic #2
    Love Medicine takes place on a Chippewa Indian reservation. The Kashpaw family is the basis of the book and owns land given in allotments by the government. However, a tribal council governs the tribe as a whole and makes decisions about who owns what land. When Lulu Lamartine’s property is threatened, she makes the argument that the tribal council is licking up the scraps Uncle Sam has left behind. Discuss the notion of property Lulu suggests and contrast it with the more familiar notion as expounded by the tribal council.

    I. Thesis Statement: When Lulu criticizes the tribal council for their white, government definition of property, she suggests that property should be defined according to how the land has historically been used. Although this definition is not apparent in the tribal...

(The entire section is 896 words.)