Love Medicine

Love Medicine

by

Louise Erdrich

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Marie and Nector’s adopted son, June and Gerry’s biological son, and King’s half-brother. June hands an infant Lipsha over to Marie not long after he is born, and he is not told who his real parents are. Marie tells Lipsha only that she saved him from his biological mother, who wanted to drown him in the river. Growing up, everyone knows the secret of Lipsha’s parentage but Lipsha, and King, who Lipsha believes is his cousin, calls him an orphan and tortures him every chance he gets. Lipsha has “the touch,” meaning he has the power to heal others by the laying on of hands, but he can’t seem to heal Nector, who suffers from dementia and in his confusion won’t stop chasing after his longtime lover, Lulu. To dissuade Nector from seeing Lulu, Lipsha tries to conjure “love medicine,” a sacred and powerful Ojibwe tradition that ensures lasting love. To conjure the love medicine, Lipsha attempts to shoot a mated pair of geese and feed their hearts to Nector and Marie, but he is not the best hunter and is forced to feed Marie and Nector frozen turkey hearts from the local grocery store. As Marie feeds Nector the love medicine, he tragically chokes and dies. After Nector’s death, Lulu tells Lipsha the truth about his identity, and he takes a trip to Minneapolis to clear his head and see King. At King’s Minnesota apartment, Lipsha meets his father, Gerry, for the first time and wins King’s car—a Firebird bought with June’s insurance money—during a game of poker. The Firebird symbolizes Lipsha’s newfound connection to June, and in it he gives Gerry a ride to Canada, coming to terms with their relationship along the way. Through Lipsha, Erdrich argues that true family need not be closely related by blood. Marie and Nector raise Lipsha as one of their own and love him like a son; yet Erdrich also implies that knowing where one comes from is essential to understanding one’s identity and self.

Lipsha Morrissey Quotes in Love Medicine

The Love Medicine quotes below are all either spoken by Lipsha Morrissey or refer to Lipsha Morrissey. 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:
Love Medicine Quotes

I saw that tears were in her eyes. And that’s when I saw how much grief and love she felt for him. And it gave me a real shock to the system. You see I thought love got easier over the years so it didn’t hurt so bad when it hurt, or feel so good when it felt good. I thought it smoothed out and old people hardly noticed it. I thought it curled up and died, I guess. Now I saw it rear up like a whip and lash.

Page Number: 229-30
Explanation and Analysis:

Our Gods aren’t perfect, is what I’m saying, but at least they come around. They’ll do a favor if you ask them right. You don’t have to yell. But you do have to know, like I said, how to ask in the right way. That makes problems, because to ask proper was an art that was lost to the Chippewas once the Catholics gained ground. Even now, I have to wonder if Higher Power turned it back, if we got to yell, or if we just don’t speak its language.

Related Characters: Lipsha Morrissey (speaker), Nector Kashpaw
Page Number: 232
Explanation and Analysis:

It was Grandma Kashpaw who thought of it in the end. She knows things. Although she will not admit she has a scrap of Indian blood in her, there’s no doubt in my mind she’s got some Chippewa. How else would you explain the way she’ll be sitting there, in front of her TV story, rocking in her armchair and suddenly she turns on me, her brown eyes hard as lake-bed flint.

“Lipsha Morrissey,” she’ll say, “you went out last night and got drunk.”

How did she know that? I’ll hardly remember it myself. Then she’ll say she just had a feeling or ache in the scar of her hand or a creak in her shoulder. She is constantly being told things by little aggravations in her joints or by her household appliances.

Page Number: 236
Explanation and Analysis:

But when she mentions them love medicines, I feel my back prickle at the danger. These love medicines is something of an old Chippewa specialty. No other tribe has got them down so well. But love medicines is not for the layman to handle. You don’t just go out and get one without paying for it. Before you get one, even, you should go through one hell of a lot of mental condensation. You got to think it over. Choose the right one. You could really mess up your life grinding up the wrong little thing.

Page Number: 237
Explanation and Analysis:

As I walked back from the Red Owl with the rock-hard, heavy turkeys, I argued to myself about malpractice. I thought of faith. I thought to myself that faith could be called belief against the odds and whether or not there’s any proof How does that sound? I thought how we might have to yell to be heard by Higher Power, but that’s not saying it’s not there. And that is faith for you. It’s belief even when the goods don’t deliver. Higher Power makes promises we all know they can’t back up, but anybody ever go and slap an old malpractice suit on God? Or the U.S. government? No they don’t. Faith might be stupid, but it gets us through. So what I’m heading at is this. I finally convinced myself that the real actual power to the love medicine was not the goose heart itself but the faith in the cure.

Related Symbols: Geese
Page Number: 241-2
Explanation and Analysis:

“Love medicine ain’t what brings him back to you. Grandma. No, it’s something else. He loved you over time and distance, but he went off so quick he never got the chance to tell you how he loves you, how he doesn’t blame you, how he understands. It’s true feeling, not no magic. No supermarket heart could have brung him back.”

Related Symbols: Geese
Page Number: 253
Explanation and Analysis:
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:

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:
Get the entire Love Medicine LitChart as a printable PDF.
Love Medicine PDF

Lipsha Morrissey Character Timeline in Love Medicine

The timeline below shows where the character Lipsha Morrissey appears in Love Medicine. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The World’s Greatest Fisherman Part 3
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
As Albertine visits with her family, Lipsha Morrissey arrives. Lipsha was raised by Marie and is always around whenever Albertine comes home.... (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 wanting to talk to... (full context)
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
Suddenly, Lipsha and Albertine hear a loud commotion from inside the house. Albertine runs inside and finds... (full context)
Love Medicine
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Lipsha Morrissey has not made much of his life. His grandmother, Marie, frequently tells him that... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
God and Religion  Theme Icon
Lipsha is well known on the reservation for having “the touch.” He can heal others and... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
...who has always loved Nector, says that Nector’s mind got so full it exploded, and Lipsha doesn’t doubt it. Lipsha has always thought that is why so many Native Americans are... (full context)
Love Theme Icon
Not long after Nector sparks up his affair with Lulu again, Marie asks Lipsha to put “the touch” on Nector. Lipsha doesn’t want to, and he knows that it... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
God and Religion  Theme Icon
Later at church, Lipsha sits next to Nector, who begins to shout his prayers at the top of his... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
God and Religion  Theme Icon
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
God must be going deaf, Lipsha thinks, or else they aren’t speaking his language. There isn’t another way to explain all... (full context)
Love Theme Icon
Later that day, Lipsha sees Nector outside talking to Lulu in the courtyard, but when he goes to the... (full context)
Love Theme Icon
Lipsha slips into the laundry room and closes the door. He doesn’t quite know what to... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
Lipsha doesn’t know what to do with Nector. It isn’t so much that Nector is going... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
God and Religion  Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
...by someone who knows what they are doing, and it can be very, very dangerous. Lipsha promises Marie he will think about the love medicine, and even he considers going to... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
Lipsha immediately tells Marie about his idea for the love medicine, and she borrows him Nector’s... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
God and Religion  Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Later, Lipsha walks home with two frozen turkeys. He has convinced himself that the power of the... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Back at Marie’s, Lipsha presents his grandmother with the raw hearts and she immediately pops one in her mouth... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
...to medical school instead, and she sits now, her eyes red from crying, next to Lipsha in the church pew. Lipsha is suddenly struck by how dependable grief and death are,... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
God and Religion  Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Later that night, Lipsha sees the light on in Marie’s room, and he decides to go in. Marie is... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
That night, Lipsha sleeps like a baby, then he finds Marie the next day and tells her the... (full context)
Resurrection
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
...pipe is together, it connects heaven and earth. Marie decides to give the pipe to Lipsha. (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... (full context)
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
Lipsha had learned the facts of his parentage from Lulu Lamartine, the “jiibay witch” who put... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Lipsha was scared of Lulu at first. She seems to know things about other people’s personal... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
As Lulu pulled Lipsha into her apartment, he was surprised by her strength. She got right to the point.... (full context)
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... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Lipsha didn’t believe Lulu at first, but then Lipsha noticed that he and Lulu have the... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
One night after Lulu told Lipsha the truth about his parents, Marie told Lipsha, seemingly for no reason, that she didn’t... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
Lipsha took a bus to a border town and found a room at a hotel for... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
Lipsha had a vision after his friend accidentally hit him in the head with a whiskey... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
Lipsha looks to Lynette. Her lip is bruised and swollen, and Lipsha realizes for the first... (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 they all decide to... (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... (full context)
Crossing the Water Part 3
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Gerry looks at Lipsha and asks his name. “I’m Lipsha Morrissey,” he says proudly. Gerry arches his eyebrows and... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
...what they will play for. King offers money, but Gerry isn’t interested in King’s money. Lipsha suggests they play for the car, the Firebird King bought with June’s insurance money. Gerry... (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... (full context)
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
...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 gone. The police burst in, and, seeing... (full context)
Crossing the Water Part 4
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
Lipsha goes out to the Firebird. One headlight is pointing toward the sky, and there are... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
Lipsha opens the trunk of the Firebird and Gerry Nanapush jumps out. He gets in the... (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 and her... (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 that he... (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,... (full context)