Discussion Topic

Analysis of the narrative structure in Chapter 13 of Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich


Chapter 13 of Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich uses a non-linear narrative structure, interweaving past and present events to reveal character motivations and relationships. This chapter's fragmented storytelling enhances the themes of memory and identity, allowing readers to piece together the complex dynamics within the Kashpaw family.

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Describe the resolution of Chapter 13, "Love Medicine," in Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich.

The resolution of chapter thirteen of Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich is probably everything that happens after the funeral and Nector Kashpaw's "reappearance" at his wife's bedside and after Lipsha tells his grandfather to leave.

Lipsha finally confesses the truth about the "love medicine" he tried to use (at his grandmother's request) to make Nector a more loving and faithful husband to Marie. He explains why he had to use the frozen turkey hearts from the store and about the attempts to have them blessed. Something changes in their relationship after this confession.

She listened. I knew from then on she would be listening to me the way I had listened to her before.

When Lipsha tries to creatively explain that Nector obviously came back because he loved Marie and could not leave this world without her, Marie does not believe her adopted grandson, but she does not says so and looks at him with tenderness. 

Marie silently hands Lipsha a string of beads. It is a moving moment for both of them, as the beads were given to her by her adopted daughter, June (who is also Lipsha's mother). She has kept them for many years and has used them as a source of reassurance and strength during difficult times. Now she knows Lipsha will need them more than she does, and the legacy has passed. Lipsha goes outside, and things once again seem normal to him. 

Perhaps a case could be made that the resolution begins after Lipsha's confession, which would then be considered part of the falling action; or perhaps even everything after the funeral itself. However, it does seem as if the resolution marks a change in the relationship between Lipsha and his grandmother, and that begins with the confession. 

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Describe the climax in chapter 13 of Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich.

Thank you for clarifying the chapter, as the chapter numbers for Love Medicine changed after Louise Erdrich revised her novel.

The climax of the novel has to be the moment when Nector Kashpaw dies. Everything before this moment leads us to believe, as the title suggests, that the "love medicine," which Marie Kashpaw has placed her hopes in and which Lipsha Morrissey has told her he can accomplish, will effect a change in Nector. It does, of course, but not the change anyone was hoping for.

Early in the chapter. Lipsha describes his grandfather this way: 

He was a hard nut. You know, some people fall right through the hole in their lives. It's invisible, but they come to it after a time, never knowing where. 

In this chapter, Nector Kashpaw, at an unexpected time and mostly through his own doing, falls through the hole he made in his own life.

Lipsha has had to create a false love medicine, using frozen turkey hearts he bought at the store instead of the goose hearts he wanted to use (because geese mate for life). When he presents them to his adoptive grandparents, Marie eagerly eats the raw (what she thinks is female) turkey (what she thinks is goose) heart. Nector, however, cannot be persuaded or tricked into eating the raw heart, turkey or goose.

Instead, in an effort to taunt and goad his wife even further, Nector places the whole heart into his mouth and rolls it around but refuses to swallow it. This is infuriating for the hurt, angry, and rather desperate Marie, and she slaps him hard on the shoulder blades, hoping this will make him swallow the fowl heart. Instead, he chokes on it and dies.

Lipsha, the one with "the gift," is unable to revive him. His gift does not work on his grandfather, just as Lipsha said it would not at the beginning of the chapter. Even more, Lipsha's gift has left him. This, too, is part of the chapter's climax.

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Describe the rising action in Chapter 13 of Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich.

Rising action in terms of plot is everything which happens between the inciting action and the climax/crisis/turning point. In chapter thirteen of Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich, the inciting action is probably when Marie Kashpaw asks her adopted grandson, Lipsha Morrissey, to use what he calls "the gift" to make her husband (Lipsha's grandfather) love and remain faithful to her. 

Lipsha knows his healing gift cannot be used on some people, and Nector Kashpaw is one of them. His grandmother insists, though, and wants him to use an ancient tribal form of medicine called "love medicine," which uses items and tokens from nature to cast a kind of love spell. Lipsha says:

Grandma tried to get me to put the touch on Grandpa soon after he began stepping out. I didn't want to....

This is the complication which sets the rest of the story in motion. 

Once they decide to try love medicine, Lipsha and his grandmother decide that each of the Kashpaws should eat the heart of a goose because geese mate for life. They are both hoping that this quality will be transmitted, through the goose hearts, from the faithful geese to the unfaithful Nector Kashpaw.

Lipsha tries to shoot a pair of geese, but his first shots fail, Unfortunately, this causes him to fall into some despair and soon he has stopped believing in the power of love medicine. Instead of persevering and doing what he knows he should do to effect powerful medicine (which requires the hearts of the geese fresh from the kill), Lipsha gives up. 

He goes to the store and purchases frozen turkey hearts, something which could not possibly be expected to possess any power. He tries to convince himself that the items do not possess the power, that the power is in his (and Marie's) faith to believe, but he does not believe his own arguments. 

He tries to get the hearts blessed, but even that does not work. He finally has to go home, follow through with the plan, and hope for the best. What happens next is part of the climax, a turning point for both Marie and Nector which neither of them expected.

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