Study Guide

King Kashpaw in Love Medicine

By Louise Erdrich

King Kashpaw

King is not in a good place (mentally or otherwise) at any point in the novel. When we first meet him toward the beginning, he gets drunk and beats up on his wife before collapsing in tears on the ground over his mother's death. As the novel bounces around in time and in and out of different characters' minds, we get a few more details about King (for example, he was in Vietnam), but mostly he just seems tortured and violent.

His relationship with his wife, as you might imagine, is pretty toxic. Certainly, she doesn't have a ton of respect for him or care for all his bluster. When Lipsha visits the couple, she scoffs at one of King's seemingly many references to his war experiences:

"… I was in Nam."
"He never got off the West Coast." Lynette leaned back to me with a bleary confiding look. Not that she'd been drinking. She seemed punch-addled or half asleep. "We listen to him anyway." She winked. "How he does blab on."
(16.2.4-5).

So, yeah, he doesn't exactly get a lot of respect around his house . . . gee, we wonder why?

One other important thing to know about King is that he apparently ratted Gerry Kashpaw (a.k.a. his mother's former lover) out to the cops to get himself out of hot water. Or at least, Gerry believes he did… King denies it.

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