Cars are repeatedly mentioned throughout Love Medicine, and they represent the deep connection between family members, as well as the assimilation of indigenous people by white America within the novel. After June’s death, King buys a brand new Firebird with her insurance money. King loves the new car, and for him, the Firebird represents his connection to this mother, June, after her death. Additionally, Lyman and Henry, Jr. purchase a red Oldsmobile convertible together, and they bond as brothers over a long-distance drive to Alaska. After Henry, Jr. is sent to Vietnam and returns a scarred and broken man, Lyman and Henry, Jr. work on the Oldsmobile together in another instance of bonding, in which Lyman hopes Henry, Jr. will talk more openly about the trauma he has suffered. Even Nector and Lulu rekindle their love and are reconnected in Lulu’s luxury sedan when they deliver the surplus butter around the reservation in the comfort of Lulu’s air conditioning.
Cars within Love Medicine are a product of the new technology brought to America by European settlers, yet cars remain an important part of the lives of the Native American characters and the connections shared between family and tribal members. At the novel’s end, Lipsha cheats at cards and wins the Firebird that King bought with June’s insurance money, and suddenly, King’s connection to June becomes Lipsha’s connection to June, which has been lacking in his life since birth. Lipsha drives his new car home, in essence bringing June home as well, and for the first time has a relationship of sorts with his mother.
Cars Quotes in Love Medicine
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.
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.