Essay on 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
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Maybe this image came in several varieties but all images of the Indian had one common point: "Indians" were another historical fact coupled with the romanticized images portrayed by the media. Our outlook on Native Americans as a society is one which attaches every individual American Indian with a cultural past which has absolutely nothing to do with the present day. Expecting an American Indian to retain cultural beliefs and societal practices reflective of his heritage is like expecting an urbanized American-Swede to carry out a traditional 1500's Swedish lifestyle in the 1990's.

It is this issue which Love Medicine adresses so skillfully. The Chippewa family in the story is very large. From the very beginning we see scenes of infidelity, drunken rampages, strained marriages, hate, and poverty. These scenes offer a look into the lifestyle of the modern Native American which is strikingly different from the comfortable images that we all harbor; images of a noble people living off the land, in harmony with nature. So much for the romantic view of the "noble savage". This leaves the reader in the uncomfortable situation reconciling the two extremes images. The compromise is found in the stories of the book. The individual narratives which show the world through the eyes of the Chippewa's. A close examination of the stories reveals a subtle difference between everyday American thought, and Chippewa thought. American's live in a
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