Love Medicine

Love Medicine

by

Louise Erdrich

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Geese Symbol Icon

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

The Love Medicine quotes below all refer to the symbol of Geese. 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.
Love Medicine Quotes

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:
Get the entire Love Medicine LitChart as a printable PDF.
Love Medicine PDF

Geese Symbol Timeline in Love Medicine

The timeline below shows where the symbol Geese appears in Love Medicine. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Wild Geese
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
God and Religion  Theme Icon
Every Friday, Nector and Eli build a hunting blind and wait for geese to land. One particular summer Friday, after shooting two geese, Nector goes into town to... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
...to the Kashpaws. Suddenly, Nector loses his balance and falls on top of Marie, dead geese and all, tearing her shirt in the process. Marie begins to struggle, but Nector refuses... (full context)
Love Theme Icon
Female Oppression and Strength  Theme Icon
...head and thinks that she must be in great pain. He hands her the dead geese. Marie can take them home, Nector says.  (full context)
The Plunge of the Brave
Love Theme Icon
...over. Even now, Nector doesn’t understand it. He went up the hill to sell two geese and came back down still holding the geese—and Marie’s hand. (full context)
Love Medicine
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
God and Religion  Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
...but decides against it. One day, while looking up at the sky, Lipsha sees two geese fly overhead, and he is struck with an idea for the perfect love medicine. Geese... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
...sits in the hunting blind near the water for what feels like hours before two geese fly overhead. Lipsha stands and aims the gun, firing off two shots, but he misses... (full context)
Native Culture, Assimilation, and Racism Theme Icon
God and Religion  Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
...himself that the power of the love medicine is not in the hearts of the geese but in “the faith of the cure.” The next day, after the birds have thawed,... (full context)
Tribal Connection and Family Ties Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
...baby, then he finds Marie the next day and tells her the truth about the geese and the love medicine. But it isn’t the love medicine that has brought Nector back,... (full context)