Love Medicine

Love Medicine

by

Louise Erdrich

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June and Gordie’s son, Lynette’s husband, Howard’s father, and Lipsha’s half-brother. After June’s death is deemed of natural causes, her life insurance pays out to King, who uses the money to buy a brand new Firebird. The Firebird is symbolic of King’s connection to June—he sees the car as his birthright, so to speak—and he is exceedingly protective of it. King is a cruel and abusive man who repeatedly beats his wife (he even tries to drown her in a sink full of dishwater), and when she takes the keys to the Firebird and locks herself inside to evade King’s abuse, he threatens to kill her. King is Lipsha’s half-brother, and while Lipsha doesn’t know the truth about his identity, King does, and he spends much of their childhood torturing Lipsha and calling him an “orphant.” King lives in Minneapolis with his family in a dark and depressing apartment, and he even spent some time in prison with Gerry Nanapush. King betrayed Gerry in prison when he snitched on one of Gerry’s many escape attempts. Near the end of the novel, as Lipsha is coming to terms with his identity, he goes to visit King in Minneapolis, during which time Gerry again breaks out of prison and pays King a visit as well. Gerry claims that King is “an apple”—“red on the outside, white on the inside”—by which Gerry means that King is a traitor to his fellow Native American and is no better than a white man. Gerry forces King into a game of five-card stud to pay for his transgression, and Lipsha suggests they play for the Firebird. King refuses, but Gerry threatens to kill him, and Lipsha takes the car with a royal flush. King’s character sheds light on the tragedy of domestic violence, and it is through King that Erdrich suggests domestic violence is a problem handed down from generation to generation. King watched his father, Gordie, abuse his mother when he was young, and he ultimately grew up to repeat the same violent behavior.

King Kashpaw Quotes in Love Medicine

The Love Medicine quotes below are all either spoken by King Kashpaw or refer to King 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:
Get the entire Love Medicine LitChart as a printable PDF.
Love Medicine PDF

King Kashpaw Character Timeline in Love Medicine

The timeline below shows where the character King 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
...and she has begun to sweat under her vinyl jacket (a gift from her son, King). Taking the jacket off is out of the question, as she needs it to hide... (full context)
The World’s Greatest Fisherman Part 2
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
...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 also crammed... (full context)
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
As everyone files out of King’s car, Albertine marvels at how old her grandfather, Nector, looks.  Albertine watches Lynette climb out... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
...watches her grandfather discover his childhood home again for the first time, she thinks about King, Jr., who is happy because he doesn’t yet have a memory, while Grandpa Nector is... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
...June wasn’t scared in the least, and she had made sure everyone knew it. Outside, King revs the Firebird’s engine. Zelda remarks that the car has a tape deck, which costs... (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... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
When King finally comes back, it is nearly dark. Lynette gets out of the car, her eyes... (full context)
The World’s Greatest Fisherman Part 3
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... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
Later, after both Lynette and King have left the table, Albertine hears shouting outside. “Bitch! Bitch! I’ll kill you! Gimme the... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
After Gordie calms King down, Albertine and Lipsha sit outside, looking up at the Northern Lights. Albertine has been... (full context)
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
...and Albertine hear a loud commotion from inside the house. Albertine runs inside and finds King drowning Lynette in a sink full of cold dishwater. Albertine jumps on his back, knocking... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
Albertine looks past King, to the counter where the pies are cooling. They are destroyed. Albertine yells at King... (full context)
Love Medicine
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
...by how dependable grief and death are, and he decides then and there to shake King’s hand the next time he sees him. (full context)
Crossing the Water Part 1
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
Howard Kashpaw hides in the bathroom as his parents fight. His father, King, says something about a man who has “busted out again,” and his mother, Lynette, screams.... (full context)
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
Hiding in the bathroom, Howard wonders if the police will come and get King again. It has happened before; the cops came in the middle of the day and... (full context)
Crossing the Water Part 2
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
Later, Lipsha sits at King and Lynette’s table, and King tries to convince Lipsha to turn himself in to the... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
...problem, of course, was that June was already married to Gordie and had a son, King. Before long, June was pregnant, and not long after her baby, Lipsha, was born, she... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
...of prison again soon. Following his vision, Lipsha has ended up in Minneapolis, sitting at King’s table. Lipsha has never really cared for King (he always treated Lipsha badly as a... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
...and paintings hang from the walls. There is even a velvet rug. Lipsha looks to King, Jr. and says hello. The child doesn’t respond. (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
King begins to tell Lipsha again that he can’t hide from the military police, and then... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
As they play cards, Lipsha notices that Lynette and King are looking more “jumpy,” and then a news report comes over the radio. Gerry Nanapush... (full context)
Crossing the Water Part 3
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
...cards. He quietly explains in a voice completely at odds with his large stature that King is a snitch who had falsely gained Gerry’s confidence only to deceive him. Gerry says... (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 what they will play for. King offers... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
It is Lipsha’s turn 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... (full context)
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
Howard runs to the door to open it, screaming, “King’s here! King’s here!” In the commotion, Lipsha turns to look at Gerry, but he is... (full context)
Crossing the Water Part 4
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
...what she had done for him in giving him to Marie. The son June claimed, King, has suffered in ways Lipsha hasn’t, and Lipsha is grateful for Marie. He reaches in... (full context)