Study Guide

Love Medicine Death

By Louise Erdrich

Death

As if the novel's other big themes didn't provide enough sadness, death is also a player in Love Medicine. In particular, there happen to be a ton of (possible?) suicides in the book, suggesting that, for some characters, meeting the Grim Reaper is preferable to what they were dealing with in life.

The living characters are often preoccupied by death and loss—although it's kind of noteworthy that they don't see death necessarily as the big end that some might. Oh, and there's the fact that resurrection kind of comes up a lot. Death and the afterlife loom large in the book, and the characters overall seem pretty interested in thinking about them.

Questions About Death

  1. Was June's death a suicide? Why or why not? How about Henry Junior's? Henry Senior's? Wait, back up—why are there so many characters that may or may not have committed suicide?
  2. Is death presented as a scary end, or simply as a next step in the natural cycle of life/death? Or is it both? How do we know?
  3. What's with all the references to resurrection? Is death something that the characters can vanquish? Or are we dealing with something more metaphorical here?

Chew on This

Death is probably the least scary thing in these characters' lives, and the easiest to "overcome" through ideas like resurrection.

The book emphasizes suicides to underscore the overall vein of self-destructiveness that seems to run through the characters and their actions.

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