Love Medicine

Love Medicine

by

Louise Erdrich

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June Morrissey / June Kashpaw Character Analysis

Eli’s adoptive daughter, Gordie’s wife, and King and Lipsha’s mother. June’s own mother dies when June is just a young girl, and June is taken in by Marie, her mother’s sister. Marie does not want June at first, but she quickly falls in love with her and is heartbroken when June decides to live with Nector’s brother, Eli, instead. Eli welcomes June with open arms and loves her like his own, but like Marie, Eli is upset when June decides to marry Gordie, Marie’s son and June’s brother for all intents and purposes. Gordie and June have a toxic marriage, and Gordie frequently abuses her, causing June to repeatedly leave him. During one of Gordie and June’s periods of separation, June meets Gerry Nanapush and quickly becomes pregnant with Lipsha, who she hands over to Marie not long after he is born. June loves Lipsha, but she doesn’t feel as if she can take care of him, and she wants him to have a better life than she can give him. June spends most of her adult life leaving Gordie and going back to him, until she finds herself in a bar in Williston, North Dakota, with a stranger named Andy. Andy and June spend the day drinking, and then he drives her out to a deserted country road. They begin to have sex, but Andy passes out drunk, and June walks out into a snowstorm, where she later dies of exposure. Through the character of June, Erdrich highlights the disproportionate amount of violence women in the Native American community are forced to endure. June is brutally abused by her husband, and while she is not physically abused by Andy, he sexually exploits her and this ill treatment leads directly to her death. Despite this violence, however, June remains strong until the end. She defends herself to the best of her ability and won’t back down without a fight. In this way, June represents both the incredible strength of women and their vulnerability to the oppression and violence of abusive men.

June Morrissey / June Kashpaw Quotes in Love Medicine

The Love Medicine quotes below are all either spoken by June Morrissey / June Kashpaw or refer to June Morrissey / June 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

Far from home, living in a white woman’s basement, that letter made me feel buried, too. I opened the envelope and read the words. I was sitting at my linoleum table with my textbook spread out to the section on “Patient Abuse.” There were two ways you could think of that title. One was obvious to a nursing student, and the other was obvious to a Kashpaw. Between my mother and myself the abuse was slow and tedious, requiring long periods of dormancy, living in the blood like hepatitis. When it broke out it was almost a relief.

Page Number: 7
Explanation and Analysis:
Crown of Thorns Quotes

Her look was black and endless and melting pure. She looked through him. She saw into the troubled thrashing woods of him, a rattling thicket of bones. She saw how he’d woven his own crown of thorns. She saw how although he was not worthy he’d jammed this relief on his brow. Her eyes stared into some hidden place but blocked him out. Flat black. He did not understand what he was going to do. He bent, out of her gaze, and groped beneath the front seat for the tire iron, a flat-edged crowbar thick as a child’s wrist.

Page Number: 217
Explanation and Analysis:
Crossing the Water Part 4 Quotes

I still had Grandma’s hankie in my pocket. The sun flared. I’d heard that this river was the last of an ancient ocean, miles deep, that once had covered the Dakotas and solved all our problems. It was easy to still imagine us beneath them vast unreasonable waves, but the truth is we live on dry land. I got inside. The morning was clear. A good road led on. So there was nothing to do but cross the water and bring her home.

Related Symbols: Cars
Page Number: 333
Explanation and Analysis:
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June Morrissey / June Kashpaw Character Timeline in Love Medicine

The timeline below shows where the character June Morrissey / June 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
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
...is the day before Easter Sunday in Williston, an oil town in southern North Dakota. June Kashpaw, a Chippewa woman, walks down the main avenue. She is “aged hard in every... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
God and Religion  Theme Icon
...color eggs are everywhere, and the man sits peeling the shell of a pink egg. June sits down, and the man remarks on her shirt, claiming her turtleneck is the same... (full context)
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
June tells the man that she doesn’t have much time until her bus, but he tells... (full context)
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
Sitting at the bar with Andy, June suddenly feels “fragile.” She gets up and heads toward the bathroom, thinking that her skin... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
God and Religion  Theme Icon
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
Andy drives June out to a country road on the outskirts of town and parks. He begins to... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
Andy is deadweight on top of June, but his breathing is deep and easy. She begins again to feel “frail,” like she... (full context)
The World’s Greatest Fisherman Part 2
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
 Weeks later, Albertine Johnson opens a letter from her mother, Zelda. Albertine’s Aunt June has passed away, Zelda writes, but they knew that Albertine wouldn’t have been able to... (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... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
God and Religion  Theme Icon
Albertine is furious with Zelda for not telling her sooner about June’s death. Albertine thinks that her mother should have joined the Sacred Heart Convent like she... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
...out that Zelda has always worked. Suddenly, a red Firebird pulls up outside. It is June’s son, King; his wife, Lynette; and their son King, Jr. Both Marie and Nector are... (full context)
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
...Albertine watches Lynette climb out of the car with her diaper bag and thinks about June. June had always told Albertine things she probably shouldn’t have when Albertine was a child,... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
...kids were never really any trouble, except for the time they all tried to hang June in a tree out back. They had all been playing “cowboys and Indians” and had... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Aurelia claims they never would have really hanged June, but Zelda doesn’t seem so sure. Marie remembers that June wasn’t scared in the least,... (full context)
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
June’s gravestone has just recently been erected, and Zelda, Aurelia, and Marie want to go see... (full context)
The World’s Greatest Fisherman Part 3
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
...always around whenever Albertine comes home. Albertine is aware of the family “secret”—that Lipsha is June’s son, born during one of the many times June left Gordie—but Lipsha seems to know... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
...from the front porch and embraces King, who falls to his knees and cries for June. (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
...at the Northern Lights. Albertine has been wanting to talk to Lipsha about his mother, June. “Your mother,” Albertine begins, but Lipsha interrupts. His “mother” is Marie, he says, and if... (full context)
The Beads Part 1
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
God and Religion  Theme Icon
Marie does not want June Morrissey the day the child is dropped at her doorstep. June’s mother was Marie’s sister,... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
...day, Zelda runs into the house and tells Marie that Gordie and Aurelia are hanging June from a tree. Marie runs outside and hears June telling the children to tighten 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... (full context)
Crown of Thorns
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
Gordie took his first drink in a long time about a month after June’s death, and he has been in a downward spiral ever since. His hands seem to... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
...time he slept. Gordie bought the tiny house and fixed it up not long after June left him. Now, sitting in the silent space all alone, Gordie grows acutely aware of... (full context)
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
...the vacuum in the corner and looks to the window in the bathroom. Gordie sees June’s face reflected in the dark glass and turns to run. He hears June bang on... (full context)
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
Driving away from the house, Gordie is so relieved to be away from June that he forgets how sick he is. His hands shake as he holds the steering... (full context)
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
...he looks to the backseat and knows in that moment that he has “just killed June.” Shaking, Gordie gets back into the car and drives. (full context)
Love Medicine
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
God and Religion  Theme Icon
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
...the awful things Lipsha has seen growing up, like Gordie drinking himself to death and June being left to freeze to death on the side of the road by some white... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
God and Religion  Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
...presence in the room. Speaking out loud, Lipsha tells Nector to go back and find June, and then he feels him leave the room. (full context)
Crossing the Water Part 2
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
...and quiet, and Lipsha knows for certain that King and Lynette know that Lipsha is June’s son as well, which makes him King’s half-brother. (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
...right to the point. Lulu had talked to Lipsha’s mother—not Marie, but Lipsha’s real mother, June—long ago about Lipsha. He interrupts Lulu. Marie is his mother, Lipsha said, his other mother... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
...years ago, her son, Gerry, fell in love with an older woman. That woman was June, and Gerry had wanted to marry her. The problem, of course, was that June was... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
...too afraid to tell him because 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... (full context)
Crossing the Water Part 3
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
...in King’s money. Lipsha suggests they play for the car, the Firebird King bought with June’s insurance money. Gerry is visibly affected by the mention of June. “Let’s play for the... (full context)
Crossing the Water Part 4
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
...her picture in a Washington newspaper, Lipsha says. He asks Gerry if he had known June, and Gerry admits he had, and that he was in love with her. They talk... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
...thinks of his ancestors who offered tobacco to the water, and then he thinks about June. He knows now what she had done for him in giving him to Marie. The... (full context)