Louise Erdrich's Love Medicine Essay

1682 words - 7 pages

English 3American Literature Louise ErdrichErdrich sees her role as being to "tell the stories of the contemporary survivors while protecting and celebrating the cores of cultures left in the wake of catastrophe", and Hertha D. Wong claims that Erdrich "is not recreating a 'traditional' Chippewa community in writing as much as she is describing the vexed boundaries between the reservation and white towns. In fact… she is 'inscribing revisionist histories of the cultural borderlands'"Discuss, via close analysis of Louise Erdrich's Love Medicine.Louise Erdrich's Love Medicine is a prefect representative of the effects of post colonialism on the Indian Americans, specifically the Turtle Mountain Chippewa community. The novel shows the Chippewa and Western culture hybridisation as the means by which American Indians survived in the wake of the disaster that followed the white people's invasion of traditionally Indian lands. Throughout the novel, Erdrich uses narrative structure and the use of multiple characters belonging to the Kashpaw and Lamartine families to blur the boundaries between Western and American Indian discourse. The multiple scenes of cultural interplay makes it impossible for the story to be read from a single viewpoint, and thus provides a narrative in which one can see the encounters between Chippewa and Western cultures, and realise that they do not stand alone, but rather meld together within the characters at the conclusion of the novel. Erdrich treats the Western and Chippewa discourses as alternate accounts grounded in both Indian American and postcolonial epistemology. "Erdrich's story cycles chronicle the centrality of ones relationships, tenuous though they may be, with one's land, community, and family, and the power of these relationships, enlivened by memory and imagination and shaped into narrative, to resist colonial domination and cultural loss and to reconstruct personal identity and communal history on one's own terms" (Wong, 88).It becomes apparent to the reader that the characters are unable to identify with a single cultural discourse, be it Western or Chippewa, within the fictional world of Love Medicine. This can be seen when one looks at the religious beliefs associated with the two cultural discourses. By contrasting the shamanistic Spirits of the Chippewa and the God of the Catholic Church, Lipsha observes that they will always experience an isolation from the Western deity, as well as never fully understand their own religious spirituality. "Since the Old Testament, God's been deafening up on us. […] Here God used to raineth bread from clouds, smite the Philippines, sling fire down on red-light districts where people got stabbed. He even appeared in person once in a while. God used to pay attention, is what I'm saying. […] Now there's your God in the Old Testament and there is Chippewa Gods as well. […] Our Gods aren't perfect, is what I'm saying, but at least they come around....

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