Love Medicine

Love Medicine

by

Louise Erdrich

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Love Medicine: Crossing the Water Part 3 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Gerry Nanapush calmly walks into the room, sits at the table, and picks up the 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 that he trusted King, like he does all Native Americans, and told him all about his plans to escape prison, only to discover that King is “an apple,” meaning he is “red on the outside” but “white on the inside.”
Gerry’s claim that King is “an apple” further underscores the racism and discrimination Native Americans must face. King apparently had no problem betraying Gerry as long as his decision to do so curried him favor with white people. King gladly sells out Gerry for his own benefit, which makes King just as bad as the white government in Gerry’s eyes.
Themes
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
Gerry looks at Lipsha and asks his name. “I’m Lipsha Morrissey,” he says proudly. Gerry arches his eyebrows and begins to laugh. As 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 Gerry’s face.
Gerry laughs and smiles because he knows that Lipsha is his son, and he can see Lulu’s influence in the way Lipsha plays cards, which is further evidence of the interconnectedness between families and the tribe.
Themes
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 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 is visibly affected by the mention of June. “Let’s play for the car,” he agrees. “June’s car.” King refuses. It is his car, he says.
Gerry, King, and Lipsha each see the Firebird as a symbol of June and a way to stay connected to her, but King is the only one who believes he is entitled to it. Erdrich, however, implies that Lipsha has just as much right to claim June as his mother as King does.
Themes
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 flush, “a perfect family.” He lays downs the cards. “I’ll take the keys,” Lipsha says as the police pound on the door.
With Lipsha’s royal flush he effectively wins June’s car, but his hand reflects how he feels about his newfound family as well. Through the car, Lipsha is finally connected to June, but he is connected to his father, and he is grateful for this.
Themes
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
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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 gone. The police burst in, and, seeing that Gerry is not there, they apologize to King and leave. Lipsha asks King for the car’s registration, and Lynette digs in a drawer for the paper, puts it in front of King to sign, and hands it to Lipsha. Lipsha turns and walks out the door.
Howard believes—or rather hopes—that the police are there to arrest King, which again speaks to the amount of abuse King heaps on his wife and son. Instead of being worried that his father will be arrested, Howard welcomes it.
Themes
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon