A Message of Hope in Love Medicine

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A Message of Hope in Love Medicine Love Medicine, by Louis Eldridge attempts to confront the popular stereotypes of American Indians. The novel generally follows the history of a family of Chippewa Indians who live on and off a reservation. In a thoroughly humanist approach, Ms. Eldrige narrates each chapter in a different voice, and through extremely varied characters effectively shows the diversity of the Indians. This is an important aspect of the novel, as it demonstrates that there is no single stereotypical "Indian". The book begins with two scenes from a modern perspective, showing a turbulent family with fairly disturbing problems. Then the author flashes back to the lives of the Chippewa's family two generations earlier, and moves more or less chronologically to the present day. One of the major conflicts in the story is the reconciliation of the Native Americans to their cultural past, while still embracing the future. The words "Indian", American Indian, or Native American, all bring to mind stereotypes of a race of people with specific stigma attached to themselves in modern American culture. The word "Indian" can conjure up a multiplicity of images, from the barbaric, blood-thirsty savages straight out of a western movie, to the more romantic image of a noble, intelligent, and tribal people, living in harmony with nature. These extremes in the modern stereotyping of the American Indian and all of their various moderations are wrong for a very important reason: They are rooted in the past. The war between popular European culture and Indian culture was over practically before it had even begun. After the frontier closed around the turn of the century all that was left of untouched Indian culture ... ... middle of paper ... ...ety. Lipsha then in his own words, "took an evil shortcut". He purchased frozen turkey's from a store and tried to have them blessed by Catholic priests. This represents the ways in which native Americans lean on the modern day conveniences of Western society. This not only makes their cultural power diminish, it turns the power completely back around on them. In Lipsha's case, the medicine killed his grandfather. The struggle of the native American people today, as illustrated in Love Medicine is one of cultural identity. The other problems of poverty, alcoholism, hate, and infidelity, are only symptoms of the "bad medicine", which is made easy by the omnipresence of Western culture. The message of Love Medicine is one of hope for a people who have everything in the world to despair about, who suffer from a sickness which only one medicine will heal.
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