Study Guide

Love Medicine Genre

By Louise Erdrich

Genre

Family Drama

The story is all about the Kashpaw family and its various friends and foes, so it's not hard to tag Love Medicine as a family drama. Obviously, the political and cultural backdrop is pretty important to understanding the characters' historical circumstances, but really it's the family relationships (whether known or part of the family treasure trove of secrets and scandals) that drive the drama.

Albertine sets us nicely for understanding the book through the lens of family when she tells us about her relationship with her mother. These details, which come very early in the novel clue us into the fact that family conflicts are going to be really important. Reading about patient abuse in her nursing textbooks, Albertine finds a counterpart in her mama problems:

"Patient Abuse." There were two ways you could think of that title. One was obvious to a nursing student, and the other was obvious to a Kashpaw. Between my mother and myself the abuse was slow and tedious, requiring long periods of dormancy, living in the blood like hepatitis. When it broke out it was almost a relief. (1.2.2)

Although some of these "abuses" among the Kashpaws never boil to the surface enough to be explicitly discussed, these dips into the minds of our first-person narrators show us the whole host of feelings and memories that are playing into family dynamics and shaping their conditions.

Does this novel involve family? Heck yes. Does this family stir up some serious drama? Double heck yes. Voila! A family drama is born.

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