Study Guide

Love Medicine Section 7, Chapter 1

By Louise Erdrich

Section 7, Chapter 1

Nector Kashpaw

  • We're now in a section entitled "The Plunge of the Brave (1957)."
  • Now we find out what Nector was doing while Lulu was getting wrapped up with Beverly Lamartine yet again.
  • Well, first we get some intel about what Nector was like as a young man. Apparently, he was such a smarty-pants stud that opportunities basically fell into his lap left and right.
  • Then we get some background on his relationship with Lulu when they were children, when they were virtually like brother and sister. And then how that evolved into lust. And then how he suddenly ended up with Marie…?
  • Apparently life just kind of got away from Nector from that point on, as he and Marie started having babies and he got lost in working to take care of them. Time just kind of flew by for years without him noticing.
  • Then, in around 1952, suddenly Nector kind of woke up and took stock of his life. He realized how much time had passed—and how changed he was.
  • Fortunately or unfortunately (it's hard to tell which), this realization coincided with him and Lulu getting thrown into the task of delivering butter around town together. At the end of their work on that front, they ended up having sex in her car.
  • For five years after that, they snuck around together. Or rather, Nector snuck around over to her place. Lulu had a baby during this time, which Nector assumes (but doesn't know for sure) is his. That baby was Lyman Lamartine, according to the family tree at the front of the book.
  • Then, in 1957, Beverly Lamartine showed up, and Lulu seemed like she might be thinking of marrying him.
  • That prospect freaked out Nector out so much that he contemplated leaving Marie. He decided that was impossible, so he resolved to abandon Lulu forever. And good thing, too, since the tribe (of which he was chairman) had decided to take away her land. Super awkward.
  • However, he soon lost his resolve on that front and decided he would leave Marie for Lulu. So, he wrote two notes: one to Marie to say that he was leaving, and one to Lulu announcing his intentions toward her. The date was August 7, 1957.
  • After writing the note, he locked it in his briefcase and went to bed with Marie.
  • When he got up in the morning, Marie was gone, and he left the note for her under the sugar. He went to go find Lulu at her house, but she wasn't there, apparently. While he was there, stressing out and looking for Lulu, he accidentally (he says it was an accident, anyway) set the house on fire with a half-smoked cigarette and the crumbled up ball of his letter to Lulu.
  • Then his daughter Zelda showed up to take Nector home as Lulu's house went up in flames.

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