Louise Erdrich, author of the Native American-themed novel Love Medicine, juxtaposes two families connected by one affair to the struggle of change brought by the “Whiteman”. The novel’s great structure and use of description for every character creates vivid images, and Erdrich’s style of writing features shifts in narrative, with every chapter consisting of another person’s story and their view on the predicaments of the two families. Erdrich’s characters endure great pain due to love, deceit, and liaison. This complex love story also incorporates symbols and a hidden mystery.
Erdrich’s heritage is mirrored throughout the characters’ lifestyles. Raised in North Dakota, Erdrich used her hometown as a sanctuary for the Kashpaws. Although she was German, she was also part Ojibwa, helping her portray an authentic Native American family.
Shifts in narration are key when writing a novel about monolithic families who share the same issues, and also it is a great addition to Erdrich’s unique, complex style. Erdrich expresses the families’ personalities by shifts in narrative giving the reader a better understanding of who the characters are.
The novel Love Medicine consists of personification, metaphor, and irony. An example of irony would be the relationship between two main characters Nector, the grandfather, and Eli, Nector’s brother. Nector was sent to a government-funded school while Eli was left at home to learn the Native-American teachings. Fifty years later, ironically, Nector’s mind is now deteriorating causing him to forget people, places, and events, but Eli has become the smart one knowing everything and everyone. A perfect example of extended metaphor and personification is, “His thoughts swam between us, hidden under rocks, disappearing in the weeds, and I was fishing for them, dangling my own words like baits and lures.” This quote refers to the conversation held between Grandpa Nector and his granddaughter, Albertine. Nector’s mind is very empty, therefore his thoughts linger and are left not spoken of nor finished.
Many important themes are prevalent in this novel, but one significant message is the importance of trying to battle for a strong family that is being invaded by their own lies and affairs. The government has caused change in the Indian community, the community where the Kashpaws and Lamartines reside. Throughout the story, Nector and Marie succeed in making the best of their family, which Lulu took note on causing her self to raise two healthy powerful sons, despite not having strong father figures. A firm family bond is something that Dot Adare and Gerry Nanapush understood because Gerry was in and out of prison and still found time to grow a relationship with his son.