Study Guide

Love Medicine Section 1, Chapter 2

By Louise Erdrich

Section 1, Chapter 2

Albertine Johnson

  • In this chapter, we pick up inside someone's brainā€”Albertine Johnson's, to be exact. She lives "far from home" in "a white woman's basement," and she is a nursing student.
  • She describes hearing about the fact that her Aunt June had died. Apparently, her mother had waited to write her until after the funeral. There's drama between the two of them, and her mother used that opportunity to get in a dig, saying that she figured Albertine couldn't get away from her studies anyway, so why rush to tell her about June?
  • We then get some background on June and Albertine's relationship with her. June was not her biological aunt, but Eli, Albertine's great-uncle, had raised her.
  • Two months pass without Albertine responding to her mother's letter, since she was mad that Zelda (that's the mama's name) didn't tell her about June in time for her to make it to the funeral.
  • We then get some background on their relationship and family.
  • Once Albertine's classes are done, she decides to go home (despite still being annoyed with her mom).
  • When she gets to the family house, she finds her mother and aunt (Aurelia) cooking. They all chat about the family (and other stuff) and continue cooking.
  • Then Albertine's grandmother and grandfather showed up, along with June's son (King), his wife (Lynette), and their son (King Junior).
  • Grandma, Zelda, and Aurelia start telling stories about June, including the time the kids (i.e., Zelda, Aurelia, and Gordie) tried to hang June as part of a game. They also discuss other family stuff, like June's life insurance and the fact that King used it for a new car.
  • Throughout this chunk of the book, we get a sense of the tensions and dynamics that are at play between King and Lynette, Lynette and the rest of the family, and so on.
  • Then Gordie and Eli show up. Gordie is driving, even though he's drunk.
  • Grandma, Aurelia, and Zelda eventually take off, but Albertine stays behind with the men and Lynette/King Junior. Albertine is under strict instructions to guard the pies that the women have been preparing all day, since they're for tomorrow.

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