Summary Of Louise Erdrich's Love Medicine

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For centuries, the children of native first nations endured tremendous trauma within the confines of boarding schools, which were mostly run by the Roman Catholic Church. Assimilation was the primary purpose of these boarding schools, but we see time and time again examples of struggle and resistance against that assimilation effort. Louise Erdrich writes about this resistance in the chapter "Saint Marie" in her novel, Love Medicine. In this chapter, Marie Lazarre's character is first introduced as a young girl of mixed blood, trying to appeal to whiteness through her connection to Catholicism. "The object that Marie aspired to reach is a sense of identity and belonging. While at first Marie attempts to embrace Catholicism wholesale the expense…show more content…
"I'll always wonder now, after hearing that, where they picked up Sister Leopolda. Perhaps she had scarred someone else, the way she left a mark on me" (Erdrich 45). Here, Marie offers more background on the convent and its reputation to be a place for nuns that have lost their minds. Next, Marie recalls her abusive relationship with Sister Leopolda and wonders if she harmed other children besides her. This line was significant to me because although Marie is recalling something traumatic, she demonstrates great courage to continue to the story of her time at the convent with the twisted character of Sister Leopolda. Additionally, she wonders if Sister Leopolda hurt other children, but she knows the answer to her question. Through manipulation of Catholicism, many church figures, like Leopolda would take advantage of native children. Marie thought that Sister Leopolda was the key to her becoming a Saint. Thus, she believed and followed everything she asked of her. "I was the girl who thought that the black hem of her garment would help me rise. Veils of love which only hate petrified by longing-that was me" (Erdrich 45). Through Sister Leopolda's heinous actions, Marie has a distorted view on love. For Marie she describes that "veils of love" is just hate that transforms into longing. At a young age, Marie is introduced to love in a very distorted way. Like Marie, many natives experienced a false sense of love in boarding schools and the psychological effects of this transcend generations. At the start of their relationship, Marie believed that Sister Lopolda had a special instinct and knowledge of the devil's whereabouts. "She knew as much about him as my grandma, who called him by other names and was not afraid" (Erdrich 45). In her youth, she saw Leopolda as a wise elder and compares her to her grandmother.
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