Love Medicine Suggested Essay Topics
by Louise Erdrich

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Suggested Essay Topics

Chapter 1
1. Family is an important concept in Love Medicine, and the relationships between characters are complex. Many of the characters have vastly differing opinions of June, for instance. Some revere her, while others show a certain amount of disdain for her. Discuss at least two different characters' perceptions of June, and how the characters' relationship to June affects his or her perception.

2. Eli does not ride in King’s car because it was bought with insurance money from June’s death. Several others treat the car cautiously as well. Discuss the relevance of a car as a symbol for June, given what you know about June’s personality and death.

Chapters 2-3
1. Marie and Sister Leopolda are both very concerned with power and competition. They compete over being good and over their respective knowledge of Satan, but Marie leaves the convent while Sister Leopolda stays. How does Marie’s perception of power change during her relationship with Sister Leopolda? How does her idea of her own and Sister Leopolda’s power change?

2. What preconceptions does Nector have about Marie Lazarre? How does meeting her show him that he is wrong? When the chapter ends, he feels bound to her. Why?

Chapter 4
1. The bead necklace the Cree Indians give to June is for the Cree's own protection. June gives those beads to Marie. Why would she give them to Marie? What does it indicate about their relationship, and about how June perceives Marie? How do you interpret Marie’s reaction to the gift?

2. At the beginning of the novel, we learn that June has killed herself.
Chapter 4 contains a scene in which June directs the other children to hang her. What does this say about June's character? How does her reaction to Grandma Kashpaw’s interruption of her hanging further add to our knowledge of her character? The episode prompts Grandma Kashpaw to tell June that she is a blood relative and can live with the family. Why does Grandma Kashpaw do this?

Chapter 5
1. Lulu has eight sons and is known to be promiscuous. The fathers do not know which, if any, of the sons are theirs, and the sons often do not know who their fathers are. Not one of them asks Lulu. Beverly and Henry Junior are one such unknowing pair. Choose one of the potential fathers or sons, and discuss how his lack of knowledge affects his behavior and ambitions.

2. Nector is married during his affair with Lulu. However, he becomes infuriated when she implies that she would marry Beverly Lamartine. This is clearly a double standard, although Nector may not realize it. After he burns down Lulu’s house, he walks away from the idea of being with her entirely, although previously he could not keep a vow to never try to see her again. What changes for him? Is it the double standard? If not, why not? Do Nector's views change?

Chapter 7
1. Nector is jealous because Lulu considers dating Beverly, while Marie is jealous because Nector declares he is in love with Lulu. The immediate cause of Nector’s jealousy is speculation and discussions about physicality and commitment with another person, while Marie’s jealousy is sparked by Nector's actual declaration that he is in love with someone else. These are two quite different situations. Compare and contrast Nector and Marie’s jealousy. How could such different causes result in the same emotion?

2. From a very young age, Marie has been struggling to be good. She freed herself from the burden of her family name, and broke free of her relatives, when she married Nector. Previously, she thought joining the Sacred Heart convent would be the way to become good, but she turned her back on that idea. Discuss the evolution of Marie’s idea of “being good” and how her life has thus far succeeded or failed to meet that goal.

Chapters 8-10
1. Several people in the novel must face the fact that their initial perception of a loved one is inaccurate. For instance, Lyman’s recognition that Henry Junior cannot be brought back to how he was before he fought in...

(The entire section is 1,452 words.)