Love Medicine

Love Medicine

by

Louise Erdrich

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Gerry Nanapush Character Analysis

Lulu’s son, Dot’s husband, and Lipsha’s father. As a young man, Gerry meets and falls in love with June, and it isn’t long before she is pregnant with Lipsha. Gerry wants to marry June, but she is already married to Gordie with an infant King at home. After Lipsha’s birth, June hands him over to Marie, and he is not told that Gerry is his father. Gerry spends most of the novel in and out of prison after getting into a bar fight with a man who calls him a racial slur. Most of Gerry’s prison time, however, is not related to his initial charge, but is instead due to his continued escape attempts. Gerry believes in justice not laws, and since he has served his original sentence, he refuses to spend one more minute in prison. Law enforcement considers Gerry a hardened criminal—an animal to be caged—but his reservation sees him as a local wonder, and a bit of a hero. He is like a legend of sorts to the Ojibwe people, one who evades capture and resist the oppressive white government, and they tell stories about his daring escapes. Gerry and King do a stint in the state penitentiary together and they grow close, but King betrays Gerry and snitches on his planned escape, adding years to Gerry’s sentence. At the end of the novel, Gerry again breaks out of prison and goes to King’s Minneapolis apartment to seek revenge, where he meets Lipsha for the first time. After the police beat down King’s door looking for Gerry, he escapes and hides in the trunk of Lipsha’s car. Lipsha agrees to drive Gerry to Canada, and along the way, they come to terms with their relationship as father and son. Gerry serves to illustrate the systemic and institutionalized racism of American society. Gerry is not a violent or dangerous man, yet he is criminalized by a racist justice system that seeks to imprison him simply because of his Native American identity.

Gerry Nanapush Quotes in Love Medicine

The Love Medicine quotes below are all either spoken by Gerry Nanapush or refer to Gerry Nanapush. 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.
Crossing the Water Part 4 Quotes

He was right about that, of course. I’d never seen. He could not go back to a place where he was known and belonged. No matter where he settled down he would always be looking behind his shoulders. No matter what, he would always be on the run.

Related Characters: Lipsha Morrissey (speaker), Gerry Nanapush
Page Number: 329
Explanation and Analysis:
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Love Medicine PDF

Gerry Nanapush Character Timeline in Love Medicine

The timeline below shows where the character Gerry Nanapush appears in Love Medicine. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Scales
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
Albertine is on her third or fourth drink sitting at a bar with Gerry Nanapush and Dot Adare. Gerry hasn’t had a drink in 13 years, and he sits... (full context)
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
...overpower her. Plus, she was very pregnant. Albertine tried to explain that she wasn’t after Gerry, but Dot only appeared to get more upset. Finding no other option, Albertine threw her... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
Dot’s baby had been conceived in the visiting room during Gerry’s last prison stay. She sat on his lap in the crowded room, and they somehow... (full context)
Love Theme Icon
Each time he broke out, Gerry would go back to Dot and hide in her trailer. Gerry always said he “believed... (full context)
Love Theme Icon
...at the weigh shack with what she thinks are labor pains. She tells Albertine that Gerry better hurry up and get there, and moments later he appears at the door. He... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
God and Religion  Theme Icon
Gerry and Albertine arrive at Saint Adalbert’s Hospital, where they go directly to the waiting room.... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
Outside, Gerry lands on the police car, caving in the entire hood. Albertine makes it outside just... (full context)
The Good Tears Part 1
Love Theme Icon
...told her that he already had a wife. She was furious and sent her son, Gerry, back to Minnesota with Beverly to make sure he got a divorce. Lulu had no... (full context)
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
Beverly and Gerry never did come back from Minnesota, and Lulu is pretty sure that Beverly somehow got... (full context)
Crossing the Water Part 2
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
Lulu told Lipsha that 20 years ago, her son, Gerry, fell in love with an older woman. That woman was June, and Gerry had wanted... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
...she loves him “like a son.” Now that both June and Gordie are dead and Gerry is in prison, Lulu felt it was time to tell the truth. Lulu said she... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
...that way. He knew he had to run, and he wanted to meet his father, Gerry. (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
...vision after his friend accidentally hit him in the head with a whiskey bottle that Gerry Nanapush, who was being transferred to the state penitentiary in North Dakota, was going to... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
...cards, and he begins to easily win each hand. Lipsha asks King if he knew Gerry Nanapush when they were both in Stillwater prison. King said he did, and that he... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
...and King are looking more “jumpy,” and then a news report comes over the radio. Gerry Nanapush has escaped the state penitentiary, the newscaster says, and is currently at large in... (full context)
Crossing the Water Part 3
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
Gerry Nanapush calmly walks into the room, sits at the table, and picks up the cards.... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Gerry looks at Lipsha and asks his name. “I’m Lipsha Morrissey,” he says proudly. Gerry arches... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Gerry throws down the cards and tells King to deal him in, but they must decide... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
...to deal, so he picks up the cards and shuffles. King gets a pair and Gerry is dealt a straight, but Lipsha deals himself a royal flush, “a perfect family.” He... (full context)
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
...open it, screaming, “King’s here! King’s here!” In the commotion, Lipsha turns to look at Gerry, but he is gone. The police burst in, and, seeing that Gerry is not there,... (full context)
Crossing the Water Part 4
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
Lipsha opens the trunk of the Firebird and Gerry Nanapush jumps out. He gets in the front seat, and Lipsha continues to drive. After... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
Gerry asks Lipsha to tell him about the reservation, and Lipsha tells him all about Lulu... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
Gerry tells Lipsha that no one really knows who killed the trooper, and Lipsha tells Gerry... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Lipsha and Gerry arrive at the border and shake hands. Gerry walks off into the darkness, and Lipsha... (full context)