Study Guide

Love Medicine Section 8, Chapter 1

By Louise Erdrich

Section 8, Chapter 1

Marie Kashpaw

  • This part is called "Flesh and Blood (1957)."
  • On the same day that Nector was setting Lulu's house on fire. Marie had taken Zelda up to visit Sister Leopolda, who was apparently on her last legs. Apparently, Marie wanted to show off how strong and successful she was to the old nun, and she got dressed up in her best outfit for the occasion. On the way, she showed Zelda where she and Nector had met.
  • When they got to the convent, Sister Dympna opened the door, not recognizing Marie (even though she'd been there when Marie was a kid). She showed the pair to Sister Leopolda's room.
  • Despite the fact that Sister Leopolda was supposed to be super frail, and Marie was hoping to kind of show off, things turned sour pretty quickly. Leopolda made fun of Marie's fancy dress and just her life general. Suddenly, Marie was back on the defensive, and then things got heated. Meanwhile, Zelda just kind of looked on, confused.
  • Sister Leopolda had a big spoon that she banged on the iron bedframe to make an "unholy racket"—apparently this was her way of showing displeasure. Marie tried to get the spoon away, but the older woman was surprisingly strong, given her health.
  • Then Marie decided she had to steal the spoon. She concocted a plan to get it, but it went awry—she had planned to get it by kneeling down to accept the nun's blessing, but when it became clear that Sister Leopolda just planned to beat her with the spoon (for old times' sake, no doubt), they tussled.
  • Marie ended up having to give up her grip on the spoon, and she and Zelda then left.
  • On the way back, Zelda announced that perhaps someday she would join the nuns someday. Who knows why their most recent visit would inspire that desire, but somehow Marie wasn't surprised.
  • When they got back, Zelda went in the house and found Nector's note announcing he was leaving Marie. She gave the note to her mother.
  • While Marie was working through her feelings on the topic, she decided to peel every potato she had in the house. The activities of the house went on while she pondered what to do, and what the future held.
  • While she was waxing the floor, she heard Zelda bringing Nector home. She decided to put the letter back on the table, but under the salt (not the sugar, as it had been originally). She said she would never mention it to Nector… and just let him wonder if she had read it.

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