Since the beginning of colonization of America, there has been the problem ofdealing with the indigenous people of the land. After the first attempts ineradicating the population, the American government changed its policy tointegration. It is this integration into white society and the severance from theIndian culture that causes disenfranchisement in the modern Indian reservation.
In Louise Erdrichs Love Medicine, the contradictory efforts to isolate the NativeAmericans on reservations and to make regular Americans of them are seenover roughly a fifty-year period.
The Morrisseys, Kashpaws, Lamartines,Lazarres and others must define their relations to alien religions, customs,economic realities, and family and social structures. And over this strugglehangs a veil of alcoholism and despair.
June Kashpaw was taken in by Marie Kashpaw and her family as a younggirl and later moved with Nectar Kashpaws brother, Eli. Though NativeAmerican definitions of family include various ties of friendship, includingspiritual kinship and clan membership, June is treated as an inferior becauseshe is not a member of a nuclear family, which is strictly a Western Europeaninstitution.
As a result, June leads an unhappy life of promiscuity while lookingfor a home and a sense of belonging. On the Christian holiday of Easter, Junefinds her home by dying in the snow. However, it is interesting to questionwhether Junes home is in the Christian-defined heaven or the afterlife believedDespite the lonely life that June led, she caused her son Lipsha Morrisseyto live with the same feeling of alienation by giving her son away to her motherMarie. Lipsha also grows up without knowing of his ancestry and therefore feelsincomplete. Added to the stress of this, Lipsha also feels detached from thewhite society by having the ability to use the old Indian medicines. Yet throughthe latter part of the book, Lipsha finds redemption from his disenfranchisementby finding the identity of his parents and accepting his talent. It is after hediscovers this information that Lipsha crosses the river water and steps into hisThe character of Henry Junior not only illustrates the loneliness of notknowing ones father, but also of not belonging to the majority race of onescountry. Henry Junior is one of the seemingly infinite amount of sons whichresulted from Lulu Lamartines friendliness. Due to this renowned trait of Lulu,Henry Junior was never quite sure who his father was. Yet Henry felt noconnection with his fatherland either. In fact, fighting for the white mans war inVietnam was inevitably the cause for Henry Juniors death. The atrocitiescommitted during the war were never forgotten by Henry Juniors conscienceand it isnt until his suicide in the river that his guilt and alienation is lifted.
The intervention of so-called western culture to the Indian population ofNorth America has created a society of indigenous people that struggle tobelong in their homeland. Louise Erdrichs Love Medicine brings these strugglesto light through the use of dramatic characters and their interactions with oneanother. Unfortunately, solace from this disenfranchisement arrives mostlythrough the death of the human body.
Bibliography:Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich
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Love Medicine in USA. (2019, May 09). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/love-medicine-in-usa/