Geese appear throughout much of Love Medicine, and they are symbolic of Chippewa love medicines as well as love and fidelity more broadly. Geese first appear when Nector goes up the hill to sell the two geese he and Eli shot earlier in the day, when he meets Marie for the first time coming down the hill, away from the Sacred Heart Convent. At the time, Nector is already in love with Lulu and intends to marry her, but he inexplicably falls in sudden and instant love with Marie. As Marie continues home, Nector gives her the geese to take back to her family, forfeiting his payment for a day’s work in the name of his newfound love for Marie. As Nector gives Marie the geese, she remains faithful, while Nector never stops loving Lulu.
Geese appear again when Marie asks Lipsha to conjure the love medicines to bring Nector back to her and away from Lulu, and after thinking about it, Lipsha decides that the love medicines should consist of the hearts from a mated pair of geese. As geese mate for life, Lipsha hopes that by eating the hearts of a mated pair, Marie and Nector’s love will be revived, and Nector will finally forget about Lulu and love only Marie. Lipsha and Marie’s belief in the geese heart ritual underscores the importance of love, loyalty, and mating to the Ojibwe culture as a whole, since the ritual is part of their traditional medicine. Of course, Lipsha misses the geese when he shoots, and he is forced to substitute the goose hearts for frozen turkey hearts from the grocery store. Nector chokes and dies eating the turkey heart, and after his death, his ghostly form visits both Marie and Lulu, which suggests that Nector continues, in even death, to love both women.
Geese Quotes in Love Medicine
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.
“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.”