Love Medicine

Love Medicine

by

Louise Erdrich

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Marie Lazarre / Marie Kashpaw Character Analysis

Nector’s wife, the adoptive mother of Lipsha, and mother to Gordie, Zelda, and Aurelia. Marie comes from a poor family on the reservation, and she goes up the hill to join the Sacred Heart Convent when she is just 14 years old. Marie is sponsored by Sister Leopolda, a cruel and racist white woman who severely abuses her, but Marie believes Christianity and the nuns will help her to “rise.” Marie ultimately discovers that she is mistaken, as Sister Leopolda seeks only to abuse Marie and further assimilate her to white culture. After Marie leaves the convent, she meets and falls in love with Nector Kashpaw, who drinks too much and cheats on her with Lulu Lamartine, but Marie sticks with him and helps to build him into a respectable man. In the early years, Marie is too busy taking care of children to pay too much attention to Nector’s infidelity, especially after she takes in June, and later, June’s son, Lipsha. Marie falls in love with Lipsha just as she did June and raises him as if he is her own son. After Nector begins to suffer from dementia and starts to chase after Lulu again, Marie convinces Lipsha to conjure the “love medicine” and bring Nector back to her for good. Lipsha agrees and presents Marie with two hearts, supposedly from a mated pair of geese, which is sure to secure her Nector’s love. Sadly, Nector chokes on the heart and dies, and Marie is left feeling heartbroken and responsible. However, Nector’s spirit visits Marie after his funeral, and she can instantly feel his love and knows that he doesn’t blame her for his death. Marie volunteers to help take care of Lulu after she begins to go blind, and the two women enjoy a meaningful and unexpected friendship. The character of Marie and her willingness to take in and love adopted children underscores Erdrich’s primary argument that true family need not be blood related, but Marie also highlights the power of love to bring both happiness and meaning to one’s life as well as agony and pain.

Marie Lazarre / Marie Kashpaw Quotes in Love Medicine

The Love Medicine quotes below are all either spoken by Marie Lazarre / Marie Kashpaw or refer to Marie Lazarre / Marie 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:
Saint Marie Quotes

So when I went there, I knew the dark fish must rise. Plumes of radiance had soldered on me. No reservation girl had ever prayed so hard. There was no use in trying to ignore me any longer. I was going up there on the hill with the black robe women. They were not any lighter than me. I was going up there to pray as good as they could. Because I don’t have that much Indian blood. And they never thought they’d have a girl from this reservation as a saint they’d have to kneel to. But they’d have me. And I’d be carved in pure gold. With ruby lips. And my toenails would be little pink ocean shells, which they would have to stoop down off their high horse to kiss.

Related Characters: Marie Lazarre / Marie Kashpaw (speaker), Sister Leopolda
Page Number: 43
Explanation and Analysis:

I was that girl who thought the black hem of her garment would help me rise. Veils of love which was only hate petrified by longing—that was me. I was like those bush Indians who stole the holy black hat of a Jesuit and swallowed little scraps of it to cure their fevers. But the hat itself carried smallpox and was killing them with belief. Veils of faith! I had this confidence in Leopolda. She was different. The other Sisters had long ago gone blank and given up on Satan. He slept for them. They never noticed his comings and goings. But Leopolda kept track of him and knew his habits, minds he burrowed in, deep spaces where he hid. She knew as much about him as my grandma, who called him by other names and was not afraid.

Related Characters: Marie Lazarre / Marie Kashpaw (speaker), Sister Leopolda
Page Number: 45
Explanation and Analysis:
The Island Quotes

“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:
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:

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

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

Marie Lazarre / Marie Kashpaw Character Timeline in Love Medicine

The timeline below shows where the character Marie Lazarre / Marie Kashpaw appears in Love Medicine. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The World’s Greatest Fisherman Part 2
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
...home, attending nursing school in Fargo. June’s mother had been the sister of Albertine’s grandmother, Marie, and June’s father was a “no-good Morrissey” who left the reservation long ago. June was... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
...with her new husband, but the land Albertine grew up on belongs to her grandparents, Marie and Nector, and it was allotted to them back “when the government decided to turn... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
...outside. It is June’s son, King; his wife, Lynette; and their son King, Jr. Both Marie and Nector are also crammed into the car’s tiny backseat, along with several cases of... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
Outside the house, Nector looks around. He says that the place looks familiar, and Marie laughs. It is his house, she says. Each time he comes to the house now,... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
Inside the house, Marie takes a ham from a can and, gently patting it, places it carefully in the... (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, and she had made sure everyone knew... (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 it before it gets too dark. As the women leave, Marie... (full context)
The World’s Greatest Fisherman Part 3
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
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As Albertine visits with her family, Lipsha Morrissey arrives. Lipsha was raised by Marie and is always around whenever Albertine comes home. Albertine is aware of the family “secret”—that... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
...Lipsha about his mother, June. “Your mother,” Albertine begins, but Lipsha interrupts. His “mother” is Marie, he says, and if his real mother ever returns, he won’t give her the time... (full context)
Saint Marie
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
God and Religion  Theme Icon
Marie is 14 years old and quite naive. She believes that no other reservation girl has... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
God and Religion  Theme Icon
Marie has the soul of a “mail-order Catholic” raised in the bush alone. She has sold... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
God and Religion  Theme Icon
Marie thinks that Sister Leopolda is just the nun to help her “rise.” Leopolda knows all... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
God and Religion  Theme Icon
Sister Leopolda is the nun that has sponsored Marie to come up the hill to the convent. Marie has other options—her light skin means... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
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Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
Marie arrives at the Sacred Heart Convent, and Sister Leopolda answers the door. She leads Marie... (full context)
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As Marie bends to grab the cup, she has a strange feeling. She sees Sister Leopolda lift... (full context)
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Sister Leopolda tells Marie that it is time to bake, and two other nuns come in the kitchen and... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
God and Religion  Theme Icon
...reaches for the bread with the long poker. As she bends over the open door, Marie kicks her as hard as she can. Leopolda lunges into the oven, but the poker... (full context)
God and Religion  Theme Icon
By the time Marie wakes 30 minutes later, she is on the couch in Mother Superior’s office “being worshipped”... (full context)
Wild Geese
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
God and Religion  Theme Icon
...set on Lulu Nanapush. Nector thinks about Lulu as he walks and doesn’t even notice Marie as she barrels down the hill, coming from the direction of the Sacred Heart Convent.... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
Nector stops Marie, holding her by the arm. “Lemme go, you damn Indian,” Marie snaps. “You stink to... (full context)
Love Theme Icon
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
Nector is infuriated that Marie is laughing at him, and he strikes her across the mouth. Marie grabs her face... (full context)
The Island
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
...Nector is putty in her hands, Rushes Bear tells her that he went out with Marie Lazarre. Lulu can’t believe it; Marie is pale as can be. “She’s ugly,” Lulu cries.... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
...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 gone, Lulu is forced to... (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... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
Marie had married Nector because she thought he was smart, but that is only if she... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
...in town most of the time, his brother, Eli, begins to spend more time with Marie and the children. Eli lives alone on the other side of the reservation, and even... (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 then she... (full context)
The Beads Part 2
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
...She charged it head-on and lived to tell the tale. Now, she is living with Marie and seems determined to make Marie miserable, just like she did to Lulu years earlier.... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
Soon, Marie is pregnant again, but her labor is harder than ever before. Rushes Bear sits by... (full context)
The Plunge of the Brave
Love Theme Icon
...he wanted, and they would sneak behind the dance house and kiss. Then, Nector met Marie, and it was all over. Even now, Nector doesn’t understand it. He went up the... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
God and Religion  Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
...years passed quickly and the children grew. Nector started drinking and “caught holy hell” from Marie for it. One day in 1952, Nector suddenly realized that his life was passing him... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
God and Religion  Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
...as well, and Nector is insanely jealous, but he still can’t bring himself to leave Marie. Nector drives to the lake and strips naked. He submerges himself in the cool water... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
...he knows that he must get Lulu back. At home, Nector writes two letters—one to Marie, telling her he is leaving her for Lulu, and one to Lulu, confessing his undying... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
The next day, Nector wakes to find Marie has already left to run errands. He places her letter under the sugar bowl on... (full context)
Flesh and Blood
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Marie had heard that Sister Leopolda was sick and dying, but she still couldn’t think of... (full context)
God and Religion  Theme Icon
Others look to Sister Leopolda like she is some kind of saint, but Marie knows better. Sister Leopolda has to pray hard because she is so close to the... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
Marie puts on her best dress made of purple wool and sets out to the convent... (full context)
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Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
Marie and Zelda arrive at the Sacred Heart Convent and are greeted by a pleasant nun.... (full context)
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Marie sits near Sister Leopolda and tells her that she feels sorry for her illness. Leopolda... (full context)
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Sister Leopolda tells Marie that it is her husband who has done well in life, not Marie, but Marie... (full context)
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God and Religion  Theme Icon
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
As Sister Leopolda bangs the iron spoon on the bed, Marie knows that she must have the spoon. She tells Leopolda that they have come for... (full context)
Love Theme Icon
On the walk back home, Zelda tells Marie that she is considering joining the Sacred Heart Convent. Marie listens to her daughter talk... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
Marie doesn’t know what to do. She folds the letter and puts it in the pocket... (full context)
God and Religion  Theme Icon
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
Marie decides to peel some potatoes for dinner. Zelda usually helps her, but she isn’t around,... (full context)
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
Marie places the letter under the salt can, which sits directly next to the sugar bowl.... (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 he is no good, and she constantly reminds him that she... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
God and Religion  Theme Icon
...placing his hands on them. Lipsha often relieves the pain of the varicose veins in Marie’s legs, and the ladies on the reservation pay him five dollars to touch their arthritic... (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... (full context)
Love Theme Icon
...Nector is already gone. Lipsha looks all around the senior living complex where Nector and Marie live (Lulu lives there, too), but he can’t find Nector anywhere. Lipsha even knocks on... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
...just get Nector to stay away from Lulu, it would solve most of their problems. Marie is finally the one to come up with a plan. Even though Marie refuses to... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
God and Religion  Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Marie’s plan involves “love medicine,” which is “an old Chippewa specialty.” Love medicine must be practiced... (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 gun so he... (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... (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 sitting on her bed holding a... (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 truth about the geese and the love medicine.... (full context)
Resurrection
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
In the days after Nector’s death, Marie spends most of her time cleaning the house. She goes through Nector’s clothes and books,... (full context)
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
In the kitchen, Marie begins to ready the corn for boiling when she sees Gordie walking up to the... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
After a sleepless night, Marie can hear Gordie rummaging around in the kitchen. He is looking for the secret money... (full context)
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
Outside, Marie stands on the porch watching as shadows pass over the trees she had planted. She... (full context)
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
Marie goes to the kitchen and picks up the axe from near the stove. She sits... (full context)
The Good Tears Part 1
Love Theme Icon
...she remembers when she realized he was seeing someone else. After Nector took up with Marie, Lulu went to live with Moses Pillager, but when Moses refused to move off the... (full context)
The Good Tears Part 2
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
...mind, regardless of what people said, and while she knew that Nector and his wife, Marie, lived at the senior facility, she did her best to avoid them. One day, Lulu... (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... (full context)
Crossing the Water Part 2
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
...truth were sincere. One day when Lipsha went to the senior citizens complex to visit Marie, Lulu stuck her head out of her door and told Lipsha to come in. Lipsha... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
...her powers. Lulu’s “insight” intimidates most of the people at the senior complex, except for Marie. Lipsha says that Marie and Lulu are “thick as thieves” since Nector’s death, which even... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
...by her strength. She got 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,... (full context)
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Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
...pregnant, and not long after her baby, Lipsha, was born, she handed him over to Marie. June wanted her baby to have a good life. “In fact,” Lulu said to Lipsha,... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
...Lulu told Lipsha that everyone knew the truth, even if they didn’t say it, and Marie was too afraid to tell him because she loves him “like a son.” Now that... (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 trust banks anymore and was hiding... (full context)
Crossing the Water Part 4
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
...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 reputation for being an “old-time traditional”... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
...about June. He knows now 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... (full context)