Cultural Fusions Essay example

Cultural Fusions Essay example

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"I felt expansion, as if the world was branching out in shoots. I felt smallness, how the Earth divided into bits and kept dividing" writes Louise Erdrich in "Love Medicine." This seemingly paradoxical epiphany, as experienced by Lipsha Morrissey, captures the emotional traumas faced by those who are on the quest for self-identity. During our lifetimes, we all undergo spiritual discovery and development that shape our beliefs and values. Erdrich reveals the burden of this daunting task on multiethnic individuals, such as the Chippewa people who are "heavily mixed with French and Cree" (Coltelli). Because they are heavily influenced by the American government to assimilate, the Chippewa people face extreme obstacles in maintaining their own distinct culture while living at the mercy of the American culture.

Erdrich's fusion of her European and Native-American ancestry into a powerfully poetic prose celebrates her mixed culture upbringing and shows the diverse "tradition, history, religion, [and] worldview" both she and her characters are exposed to (Bacon). She creates "a universalizing experience" for characters and readers alike as we are all bounded on the same journey of cultural development. Having found her niche in life as a dedicated mother, poet, and writer, Erdrich "functions as an emissary of the between-world, that increasingly common margin where cultures mix and collide" (Bacon).

Louise Erdrich's masterful debut novel "Love Medicine" follows the life and death of several generations of characters all belonging to the interweaved families of the Chippewa tribe. The novel sets out in 1981 on a Chippewa reservation in North Dakota with the re...


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...ich employs saucy and comical descriptions of sex and parenthood to further season the prose with wit and "survival humor" (Coltelli). At one point, Marie adopts so many "surplus babies on the reservation [that they] seemed to get unexpected shipments from time to time" (Erdrich 135).

"Love Medicine" is itself a ménage a trois of love, tragedy, glory, shame, and violence. It portrays self-discovery through vibrantly illustrated characters that we can all identify and commiserate with. Erdrich herself shares an exclusive attachment with her characters, because she has personally experienced the same trials and tribulations of the culturally mixed. At the same time, readers also take part in this unifying experience, since we are all voyagers in the quest of identity within a modern but equally influential melting pot milieu.

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