Love Medicine Essential Quotes by Theme: Home
by Louise Erdrich

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Essential Quotes by Theme: Home

Essential Passage 1: Chapter 13, “The Good Tears”

All through my life I never did believe in human measurement. Numbers, inches, feet. All are just ploys for cutting nature down to size. I know the grand scheme of the world is beyond our brains to fathom, so I don’t try, just let it in. I don’t believe in numbering God’s creatures. I never let the United States census in my door, even though they say it’s good for Indians. Well, quote me. I say that every time they counted us they knew the precise number to get rid of.

I believed this way even before those yellow-bearded government surveyors in their tie boots came to measure the land around Henry’s house. Henry Lamartine had never filed on or bought the land outright, but he lived there. He never took much stock in measurement, either. He knew like I did. If we’re going to measure land, let’s measure right. Every foot and inch you’re standing on, even if it’s on the top of the highest skyscraper, belongs to the Indians. That’s the real truth of the matter.

Lulu has lived in a small house on land that was “settled” by her husband Henry. After Henry’s death (most likely by suicide, parking his car on a train track), Lulu continued to live there with her eight sons. Yet Henry never bought the land, but merely settled on it. He was known as a “squatter,” someone who lives on property that is uninhabited but is either owned by someone else or is owned by the government. In this case, the land where Lulu was living was owned by the tribal government. With their intent to build a factory on the land, the tribal council voted to evict Lulu (the order being signed by the tribal chief and Lulu’s lover, Nector). Yet Lulu refuses to move. She claimed the land by living on it, by improving it, by building a home on it. When the contractors come to measure the land, she reflects on this need by the authorities to measure things, whether it is land or people. Counting gives power to the counter. It is this against which Lulu rebels.

Essential Passage 2: Chapter 12, “Love Medicine”

It hits me, anyway. Them geese, they mate for life. And I think to myself, just what if I went out and got a pair? And just what if I fed some part—say the goose heart—of the female to Grandma and Grandpa ate the other heart? Wouldn’t that work? Maybe it’s all invisible, and then maybe again it’s magic. Love is a stony road. We know that for sure. If it’s true that the higher feelings of devotion get lodged in the heart like people say, then we’d be home free. If not, eating goose heart couldn’t harm nobody anyway. I thought it was worth my effort, and Grandma Kashpaw thought so, too. She had always known a good idea when she heard one. She borrowed me Grandpa’s gun.

Nector (Grandpa) continues his almost lifelong affair with Lulu. Though mostly at this point in his life, his advancing age and his diabetes spur him to visit her more for candy than for sex. Yet still, Marie (Grandma) is hurt by his unfaithfulness, though over the years she has had to face it many times. Her love for Nector has never faded, and now that the end of their lives is approaching, she would like for him to at last become solely dedicated to her, his wife. Lipsha, their grandson, wants to help his grandma fulfill her dream of keeping his grandpa at home. Known throughout the reservation has having a magic touch, known as “love medicine” that inspires devotion and fidelity, he devises a plan to help his grandparents. Since geese mate for life, he plans on shooting a pair of mating geese, cut out their hearts, and give them to his grandparents to eat, believing that this will cause the love to blossom and bond. Though he shoots the geese, he cannot cut out their hearts, so he buys turkey hearts at the grocery store, and gives them to Nector and Marie instead (not telling them of the switch). Unfortunately, Nector chokes on the heart and dies. Yet Marie claims he continues...

(The entire section is 1,525 words.)