Love Medicine

Love Medicine

by

Louise Erdrich

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Lyman Lamartine Character Analysis

Lulu and Nector’s son and brother to Gerry and Henry, Jr. Lyman is the product of Lulu and Nector’s longstanding affair, but Lulu never tells Nector that Lyman is his son. Still, both Lyman and Nector suspect the truth, although they never meet as father and son. Lyman and his brother, Henry, Jr. are the first to own a convertible on the reservation, and after Henry, Jr. returns home from Vietnam a scarred and broken man, Lyman uses the car as an excuse to get close to him. Lyman trashes the car—he rips the muffler from the undercarriage and wrecks the tail pipe—and then he and Henry spend time together, fixing the car and talking. Lyman is with Henry, Jr. when he walks into the Red River and drowns, but he tells Lulu that Henry, Jr. died in an accident to save her from the pain of his suicide. Lyman finally asks Lulu about his father after Nector’s death, but Lyman ultimately decides it doesn’t matter who his father is. Like the rest of the Lamartine boys, Lyman serves to highlight the incredible connection between brothers and family, even a nontraditional family like Lulu’s.

Lyman Lamartine Quotes in Love Medicine

The Love Medicine quotes below are all either spoken by Lyman Lamartine or refer to Lyman 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 Red Convertible Quotes

One night Henry was off somewhere. I took myself a hammer. I went out to that car and 1 did a number on its underside. Whacked it up. Bent the tail pipe double. Ripped the muffler loose. By the time 1 was done with the car it looked worse than any typical Indian car that has been driven all its life on reservation roads, which they always say are like government promises—full of holes. It just about hurt me. I’ll tell you that! I threw dirt in the carburetor and I ripped all the electric tape off the seats. I made it look just as beat-up as I could. Then I sat back and waited for Henry to find it.

Related Characters: Lyman Lamartine (speaker), Henry Lamartine, Jr.
Related Symbols: Cars
Page Number: 184
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Love Medicine LitChart as a printable PDF.
Love Medicine PDF

Lyman Lamartine Character Timeline in Love Medicine

The timeline below shows where the character Lyman Lamartine appears in Love Medicine. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
A Bridge
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
...Albertine knows him as well, she discovers, and tells Henry that she knows his brother, Lyman. (full context)
The Red Convertible
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Lyman Lamartine was the first to own a convertible on the reservation. He had bought it... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
Lyman wasted much of the money, and then he saw the car. He was on a... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Somewhere in Montana, Lyman and Henry saw a Native American girl hitchhiking. They pulled up alongside of her in... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
Lyman writes Henry many letters while he is in Vietnam and tells him about the convertible,... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Lyman looks out to the Oldsmobile and knows exactly what to do. He takes a hammer... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Henry and Lyman get into the Oldsmobile and head toward the Red River. Henry wants to see the... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
God and Religion  Theme Icon
Lyman reminds Henry that they are the “crazy Lamartine boys,” but Henry isn’t ready to go... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
By the time Lyman pulls himself out of the water, the sun has already set. He goes to the... (full context)
Love Medicine
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
...with any of Lamartine boys because she had a bad feeling. Within a few days, Lyman and Henry crashed into the river and Henry was killed. (full context)
The Good Tears Part 1
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
...and he spent five years sneaking in her window after Henry’s death. During this time, Lyman was born “half Kashpaw,” which is why he is so good with money, Lulu says.... (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 in the house for just a moment and ran... (full context)
The Good Tears Part 2
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
...operation on her eyes when she heard about Nector’s death. After she heard the news, Lyman asked if Nector was his father, but then he said he didn’t want to know. (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
...didn’t cry when Nector died, partly because nothing could be more painful than the day Lyman told her Henry, Jr. had been killed. Moses told her once that drowning was the... (full context)