Love Medicine

Love Medicine

by

Louise Erdrich

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Lulu Nanapush / Lulu Lamartine Character Analysis

The traditional Ojibwe wife of Moses Pillager; the Christian wife of Henry Lamartine and Beverly Lamartine; mother to Gerry, Henry, Jr., and Lyman; and Nector Kashpaw’s lover. After being rescued from the residential school by her Uncle Nanapush, Lulu meets and falls in love with Nector, but he unexpectedly leaves her after falling in love with Marie. Heartbroken, Lulu moves in with Moses, a traditional Ojibwe man and her second cousin. She soon gives birth to Gerry, but when Moses refuses to leave the isolated island he lives on, Lulu leaves him and moves back to the reservation. Lulu is an openly promiscuous woman, and she makes no apologies for her sexual choices. She marries Henry Lamartine, a kind man who drinks too much, and even though he is not the biological father of any of Lulu’s eight sons, he accepts them as his own. Henry, however, is a terrible alcoholic, and he parks his car on the railroad tracks and commits suicide. Lulu has a fleeting affair with Henry’s brother, Beverly, which results in the birth of Henry, Jr., but she soon begins to see Nector again, and the two have a weekly affair for over five years. During this time, Nector fathers Lulu’s son, Lyman, and after the tribal council evicts Lulu from her house and land (Henry had never officially purchased it, and Lulu is technically squatting), Nector inadvertently burns down Lulu’s house, leading to the end of their relationship for several years. Lulu is a strong and independent woman who loves fiercely and lives her life on her own terms. She fights for her family and her home, and when she is branded as sexually promiscuous, she holds her head up high and refuses to be ashamed. In her old age, Lulu becomes a respected member of her tribe, valued for her knowledge of “old-time” Ojibwe traditions. Through the character of Lulu, Erdrich argues the power of love to both enrich and complicate one’s life. Lulu lives to love, but love also destroys her, which underscores Erdrich’s primary assertion that love, while undoubtedly wonderful, can also be complicated and painful.

Lulu Nanapush / Lulu Lamartine Quotes in Love Medicine

The Love Medicine quotes below are all either spoken by Lulu Nanapush / Lulu Lamartine or refer to Lulu Nanapush / Lulu Lamartine. 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 Island Quotes

Following my mother, I ran away from the government school. I ran away so often that my dress was always the hot-orange shame dress and my furious scrubbing thinned sidewalks the matrons forced me to wash. Punished and alone, I made and tore down and remade all the dormitory beds. I lived by bells, orders, flat voices, rough English. I missed the old language in my mother’s mouth.

Related Characters: Lulu Nanapush / Lulu Lamartine (speaker), Fleur Pillager
Page Number: 68
Explanation and Analysis:

“Although I lost my spirit to Father Damien six years ago, gambling at cards. I’d still like to walk away on the old road. So when my time comes, you and your mother should drag me off, wrap me up in quilts. Sing my songs and then bury me high in a tree. Lulu, where I can see my enemies approach in their government cars.”

Page Number: 71
Explanation and Analysis:
Lulu’s Boys Quotes

Lulu’s boys had grown into a kind of pack. They always hung together. When a shot went true, their gangling legs, encased alike in faded denim, shifted as if a ripple went through them collectively. They moved in dance steps too intricate for the noninitiated eye to imitate or understand. Clearly they were of one soul. Handsome, rangy, wildly various, they were bound in total loyalty, not by oath but by the simple, unquestioning belongingness of part of one organism.

Related Characters: Lulu Nanapush / Lulu Lamartine
Page Number: 114
Explanation and Analysis:
Love Medicine Quotes

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:

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:
The Good Tears Part 1 Quotes

And so when they tell you that I was heartless, a shameless man-chaser, don’t ever forget this: I loved what I saw. And yes, it is true that I’ve done all the things they say. That’s not what gets them. What aggravates them is I’ve never shed one solitary tear. I’m not sorry. That’s unnatural. As we all know, a woman is supposed to cry.

Related Characters: Lulu Nanapush / Lulu Lamartine (speaker)
Page Number: 273
Explanation and Analysis:

I believed this way even before those yellow-bearded government surveyors in their tie boots came to measure the land around Henry’s house. Henry Lamartine had never filed on or bought the land outright, but he lived there. He never took much stock in measurement, either. He knew like I did. If we’re going to measure land, let’s measure right. Every foot and inch you’re standing on, even if it’s on the top of the highest skyscraper, belongs to the Indians. That’s the real truth of the matter.

Related Characters: Lulu Nanapush / Lulu Lamartine (speaker), Henry Lamartine
Page Number: 278
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Love Medicine LitChart as a printable PDF.
Love Medicine PDF

Lulu Nanapush / Lulu Lamartine Character Timeline in Love Medicine

The timeline below shows where the character Lulu Nanapush / Lulu Lamartine appears in Love Medicine. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Wild Geese
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
God and Religion  Theme Icon
...any girl on the reservation that he wants, but he has his heart set on Lulu Nanapush. Nector thinks about Lulu as he walks and doesn’t even notice Marie as she... (full context)
The Island
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
Lulu Nanapush has never grown very far from her mother’s arms, and even when they sent... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Free from the school and back on the reservation, Lulu feels as if the government can no longer “cage” her. When Nanapush came to get... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
God and Religion  Theme Icon
Nanapush tells Lulu that he is old and will soon die. He “lost his spirit” years ago in... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Meanwhile, Rushes Bear’s son, Nector, begins to look at Lulu, and just when Lulu thinks Nector is putty in her hands, Rushes Bear tells her... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
...stays for quite some time. Her attitude is even worse than usual, and she tells Lulu that Nector is marrying Marie, one of those “lowlife” Lazarres. With the prospect of Nector... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
Lulu is convinced that she can’t spend another minute with Rushes Bear, and she begins to... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
One day, Lulu asks Nanapush to tell her about Moses, but Nanapush is reluctant. Lulu asks why she... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
Lulu goes to the island anyway. Before long, Moses has completely fallen for Lulu, and he... (full context)
The Beads Part 2
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
...living with Marie and seems determined to make Marie miserable, just like she did to Lulu years earlier. Coming to her wits’ end, Marie kicks Rushes Bear out, but Rushes Bear... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
...they go to the hospital. Marie refuses, and Rushes Bear goes to get Fleur Pillager, Lulu Nanapush’s mother. Fleur and Rushes Bear see Marie through labor, speaking the “old language” to... (full context)
Lulu’s Boys
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
On the last day that Lulu is Henry Lamartine’s widow, she sits drinking beer with Henry’s brother, Beverly. Beverly is a... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
Lulu hasn’t seen Beverly since Henry’s funeral seven years ago. Henry died in a car crash... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
Lulu has always been known as a “flirt,” and many people in town say terrible things... (full context)
Love Theme Icon
Sitting across from Lulu in her kitchen, Beverly can’t believe how long it has been since Henry’s death. He... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
...back outside, and Beverly can hear gunshots. The older boys are teaching him to shoot, Lulu says. Lulu’s boys are like “a kind of pack” They are always together, like they... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
...Beverly has completely abandoned his plans to take Henry, Jr. back to Minneapolis. Beverly watches Lulu as she readies dinner for her boys. She is so efficient and skilled that the... (full context)
The Plunge of the Brave
Love Theme Icon
Years before, Nector had fallen in love with Lulu Nanapush. She was just what he wanted, and they would sneak behind the dance house... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
God and Religion  Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
...felt as if the life had been “squeezed” from him. He began to think of Lulu. He had never really gotten over her, and the more miserable he became, the more... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
...it. It had to be delivered quickly, but he would need air conditioning. Just then, Lulu drove by in her fancy custom car. Nector yelled to her, asking if her car... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
...the sixth night, he would leave for work as usual, but he would go to Lulu’s instead. Their affair continued for five years, until Lulu became pregnant again. Nector didn’t know... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
God and Religion  Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Now, in 1957, Nector knows that Beverly Lamartine has been visiting Lulu as well, and Nector is insanely jealous, but he still can’t bring himself to leave... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
In the meantime, an area redevelopment plan is presented to the tribal council. Lulu’s house is right in the middle of land the tribe wants to put a factory... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
...He places her letter under the sugar bowl on the kitchen table and heads to Lulu’s house. It is obvious no one is home, so he lights a cigarette and waits.... (full context)
Flesh and Blood
Love Theme Icon
...reads the letter. It is from Nector, and he claims he is in love with Lulu, like he has always been, and is leaving Marie. (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
...it is a poor one. Not all men are like Nector, Marie thinks, and even Lulu’s late husband, Henry, is proof of that. Henry knew that Lulu cheated and had children... (full context)
The Red Convertible
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
...the building was a total loss, and Lyman got a sizable insurance payout—in his mother, Lulu’s, name of course. (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
...man. Lyman notices that Henry is “jumpy and mean,” and he is withdrawn and distant. Lulu doesn’t know what to do. She can take Henry to the Native American doctor on... (full context)
Love Medicine
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
Lulu Lamartine, the woman who has always loved Nector, says that Nector’s mind got so full... (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... (full context)
Love Theme Icon
Later that day, Lipsha sees Nector outside talking to Lulu in the courtyard, but when he goes to the courtyard to get him, Nector is... (full context)
Love Theme Icon
...and closes the door. He doesn’t quite know what to do. Yelling at Nector and Lulu to stop doesn’t feel quite right to Lipsha. Suddenly, as Nector and Lulu pick up... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
...isn’t so much that Nector is going insane, it is that he shamelessly chases after Lulu. If Lipsha could just get Nector to stay away from Lulu, it would solve most... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
God and Religion  Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
...Nector and Marie, maybe they will mate for life, too, and Nector will forget about Lulu. (full context)
The Good Tears Part 1
Love Theme Icon
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
People have never understood Lulu Lamartine. They often call her “a cat” and say she is incapable of loving anyone,... (full context)
Love Theme Icon
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
“I’m going to tell you about the men,” Lulu says, and the “handsome, distinguished man who burnt my house down.” Nector had burned Lulu’s... (full context)
Love Theme Icon
Nector was Lulu’s first love. She remembers meeting him behind the dance hall to kiss, and she remembers... (full context)
Love Theme Icon
Lulu’s second husband was Henry Lamartine, and he was killed when his car stalled on the... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
Although no one knows it, Lulu found a dead body in the woods when she was a child. She told no... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
Lulu went to the dead body and pulled the old red scarf holding his pants up.... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Lulu has always been happy, but Nector has been the one exception to this general rule.... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
Lulu has never believed in “human measurement,” and she doesn’t believe in “numbering God’s creatures.” She... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
After Lulu received the eviction notice signed by Nector, he came to the house to talk to... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
Lulu argued her case to the tribal council. Their tomahawk factory “mocked” them all, she said,... (full context)
Love Theme Icon
The council quickly decided to offer Lulu monetary restitution, and it wasn’t long after that her house burned to the ground. After... (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 Gerry thrown in jail. This thought, however, doesn’t... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
On the day Nector burned down Lulu’s house, all the boys were gone except for Lyman, the youngest. Lulu had left Lyman... (full context)
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
After the fire, people in town were kind to Lulu and even offered to take her in. She refused, however, and instead stayed on the... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
When Lulu turned 65, she began to go blind. She was able to get a small apartment... (full context)
The Good Tears Part 2
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
Lulu was not responsible for Nector losing his mind, regardless of what people said, and while... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
All the time that Lulu had known Nector, all that mattered to him was his “greed.” Strangely, that is what... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
Lulu didn’t cry when Nector died, partly because nothing could be more painful than the day... (full context)
Love Theme Icon
Not long after his funeral, Nector came to visit Lulu. He slipped in the window like he used to, and even though Lulu couldn’t see... (full context)
Love Theme Icon
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
The next morning, Marie knocked on Lulu’s door. Lulu had applied for an aid to help with her eye drops, but when... (full context)
Crossing the Water Part 2
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
Lipsha had learned the facts of his parentage from Lulu Lamartine, the “jiibay witch” who put a spell on Nector when they were young. Lipsha... (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 business, but since Lipsha... (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... (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... (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 same nose. Lulu... (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... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
...he can’t hide from the military police, and then they all decide to play poker. Lulu has taught Lipsha how to cheat at cards, and he begins to easily win each... (full context)
Crossing the Water Part 3
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
...Gerry laughs, Lipsha notes that Gerry is marking the cards quickly and discreetly, just as Lulu had taught Lipsha. Gerry watches Lipsha as he does the same, and a smile crosses... (full context)
Crossing the Water Part 4
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 new friendship with Marie. He tells Gerry about how Lulu has gained a... (full context)