Love Medicine

Love Medicine

by

Louise Erdrich

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Rushes Bear and Kashpaw’s son, Nector’s brother, and June’s adoptive father. When Eli is a young boy, Rushes Bear keeps him from the residential schools by hiding him in the floorboards, and he spends most of his early life hidden in the bush, away from the influence of white society. Eli lives as close to a traditional Native lifestyle as he can living on the reservation. He speaks the “old language” and is the only one left on the reservation who can still snare a deer. After June’s mother dies, and she is taken in by Marie and Nector, June decides that she would rather live with Eli, and he welcomes her with open arms. Eli raises June as if she was his own daughter, and he is devastated after her death. Eli’s character, much like Nanapush and Moses Pillager, represents “old-time traditional” Ojibwe culture, but he also serves to illustrate Erdrich’s primary assertion that true family need not share blood ties.

Eli Kashpaw Quotes in Love Medicine

The Love Medicine quotes below are all either spoken by Eli Kashpaw or refer to Eli Kashpaw. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Harper Perennial edition of Love Medicine published in 2016.
The World’s Greatest Fisherman Part 2 Quotes

She had let the government put Nector in school but hidden Eli, the one she couldn’t part with, in the root cellar dug beneath her floor. In that way she gained a son on either side of the line. Nector came home from boarding school knowing white reading and writing, while Eli knew the woods. Now, these many years later, hard to tell why or how, my great-uncle Eli was still sharp, while Grandpa’s mind had left us, gone wary and wild.

Page Number: 19
Explanation and Analysis:
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Eli Kashpaw Character Timeline in Love Medicine

The timeline below shows where the character Eli Kashpaw appears in Love Medicine. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The World’s Greatest Fisherman Part 1
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
...blows—a “Chinook wind,” June thinks—and she pretends that she is just heading home to Uncle Eli’s after a dance or from a friend’s house. It begins to snow, and June’s fee... (full context)
The World’s Greatest Fisherman Part 2
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
...a “no-good Morrissey” who left the reservation long ago. June was raised by Albertine’s great-uncle Eli, and then June married Gordie, her cousin and brother for all intents and purposes. Marie... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
June had been a terrible mother, and even Eli, who was always “crazy about his little girl,” admitted it. Despite this, however, Albertine thinks... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
...allotted to Nector’s mother, Rushes Bear, when Nector was just a child, and his brother, Eli, still lives on the opposite end of the allotment, but Nector remembers none of this.... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
...car has a tape deck, which costs extra. King is expecting to go pick up Eli, but both Zelda and Aurelia know Eli won’t ride in the car. Confused, Albertine asks... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
Hours later, Zelda wonders where King and Eli are. They are probably out joyriding, she says, remarking again on Lynette. “That white girl,”... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
...King, Jr. Moments later, Gordie Kashpaw pulls in the driveway in his old truck with Eli next to him. Gordie is obviously drunk, and he circles the old Chevy twice around... (full context)
The World’s Greatest Fisherman Part 3
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
...very little about his biological parents. As they sit around the table, Gordie says that Eli is the last one on the reservation that can still snare a deer. (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
King adjusts his hat, which reads: “World’s Greatest Fisherman.” He asks Eli for a cigarette, and Gordie, King’s father, says that King should have said “ciga swa.”... (full context)
Wild Geese
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
God and Religion  Theme Icon
Every Friday, Nector and Eli build a hunting blind and wait for geese to land. One particular summer Friday, after... (full context)
The Beads Part 1
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
With Nector gone in town most of the time, his brother, Eli, begins to spend more time with Marie and the children. Eli lives alone on the... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
God and Religion  Theme Icon
One day, June tells Marie that she wants to live with Eli. Marie tells her to go, and then she reaches silently into the lard can, where... (full context)
Crown of Thorns
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
...things he would rather forget. Gordie looks at his hands now, large and shaking at Eli’s table, and thinks of how he was once a Golden Gloves boxer, but he mostly... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Eli pushes an egg across the table at Gordie. It is six o’clock in the morning,... (full context)