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Love Medicine (Love Medicine, #1)
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Prompt #5 - Morality (LM)

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message 1: by Mrs. Asti (last edited Jul 02, 2016 08:44PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mrs. Asti | 14 comments Mod
Morally ambiguous characters – characters whose behavior discourages readers from identifying them as purely evil or purely good – are at the heart of many works of literature. In Louise Erdrich's "Love Medicine", select a morally ambiguous character who plays a pivotal role. Then write a well-supported paragraph in which you explain how the character can be viewed as morally ambiguous and why his or her moral ambiguity is significant to the work as a whole. Avoid mere plot summary.

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Sharina | 13 comments Sharina Hernandez
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In the novel “Love Medicine” by Louise Erdrich, one is exposed to complex characters from different points of view, making each individual more realistic. This feat not only illustrates Erdrich’s literary skills but also several morally ambiguous characters such as Nector, Gerry, Lulu, etc. However, one of the most notable morally ambiguous characters is Marie Kashpaw. Widowed after her attempt in restoring her relationship with her husband Nector, the audience is torn between identifying this character as either purely good or purely evil. Just like there is no vivid distinction in the real world, Marie can be categorized under both titles, depending on one’s viewpoint in regards to her actions and motives. One instance that leaves the audience stunned occurs at a point of Marie’s life when she is seeking acceptance in the Sacred Heart Convent at the mere age of fourteen. Enduring back-to-back days of abuse from Sister Leopolda, Marie eventually reaches a breaking point as the nun is pouring boiling water down her back in attempts to “boil [the Dark One] from [her] mind” (page 53). At this point, the young and scarred Marie tries to push Sister Leopolda into the open, burning oven, possibly striving to kill her rather than hurt her. This makes one doubt Marie’s sanity at such an adolescent stage in life but may also prove to be a form of protecting herself from a future pain that the woman would cause her. Another mentionable occurrence is when Marie confronts the nun in the future as she begins to deteriorate physically. Motivated by the idea of making Leopolda both fearful and guilty of their past, Marie chooses to face the woman at the convent to strut her status wearing her finest dress. Contrary to her initial plan, meeting with Leopolda brings to light the unclear desire for Marie to raise her husband up to such a high stature by her comment: “So you’ve come up in the world… or your husband has, it sounds like, not you, Marie Lazarre” (page 154). Once more, this makes one question Marie’s true intentions behind assisting Nector to become the chairman of the tribe. Did she do this for the good of the people? For the good of her husband? Or for her own greed for power in the society? As Marie retracts from Leopolda’s statement, it is left unclear as to the real reason for her actions, left open for the audience to discern. Ultimately, the vague line between good and evil evident is Marie’s character plays a key role in the story overall. Her actions make those around her including her children, remain distant from her. During Marie and Zelda’s encounter with Leopolda, we see how her daughter becomes worried by her mother when Marie’s “feel[s] Zelda stiffen in bewilderment at what [she] said” (page 154). Moreover, realistic characters that are indistinctly good nor evil can play an important role in the development of surrounding individuals as well as affect character relationships.

Question: As the story progress, the reader is more exposed to pairs and their distinct relationships: Lulu and Marie, King and Lipsha, Henry and Lyman, etc. Of the formerly mentioned (or any others that draw your attention), which is the easiest to relate to? Which is the most difficult to relate to? Why?


Raina | 3 comments Raina Salinas

In Love Medicine, there are several characters that are morally ambiguous. One said character is Lulu Lamartine (née Nanapush). Readers can neither identify Lulu as purely evil nor purely good because she displays a mixture of both traits throughout the story. Although she may be painted as an evil temptress who is out to sleep with any man, she is more than a simple soubrette. Lulu never once disowned any of her offspring; she managed to raise them all despite the absence of a stable partner in her life. Beverly described her children’s attachment to her, “a queen protected by bloodthirsty warriors” (pg. 114). She shows selfishness by permitting Nector’s infidelity. However, she also shows selflessness by defending the reservation from being exploited even though most of the tribe had a lowdown opinion of her. Lulu’s selfishness caused a disconnect in her relationship with the tribe, but her selflessness allowed the tribe to keep their reservation untainted from government interference.


Erin Gallo | 13 comments Erin Gallo
In “Love Medicine”, Louise Erdrich presents a variety of ambiguous characters such as Marie, Nector, June, Lynette and more but the one whom contained the most moral ambiguity was Albertine Johnson. Albertine became significant in the novel ideally by being the first character to share their first person point of view. Erdrich sets it up so the readers cannot identify Albertine as purely evil nor purely good because of her mixed contribution to both good and bad. Many may see Albertine as bad because she neglected the relationship with her mother, Zelda, but she states “I’d been the one who’d really blocked my mother’s plans for being pure. I’d forced her to work for money, keeping books, instead of pursuing tasks that would bring divine glory on her head. I’d caused her to live in a trailer near Grandma so that there would be someone to care for me. Later on, I’d provided her with years of grinding grief. I had gone through a long phase of wickedness and run away. Yet now that I was on the straight and narrow, things were even worse between us.” (Pg.10) this quote represents that although she ran way she did not go back to her wicked ways but became straight and narrow meaning she is now doing worthy for herself. Many readers can find good in her because instead of staying with her mother and continuing a toxic relationship she took a step back and became selfish for her success. It is not right or wrong to become selfish when it comes to what is better for one in the long run, so she took her running away and turned it into focusing on a healthier future and becoming a doctor. Yes, she did run away from her family however she improved as a person and her studies at nursing school.


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Aaron Chichester | 13 comments Aaron Chichester
In this novel, written by Louise Erdrich, morally ambiguous characters are prevalent throughout the entire book. The inclusion of these dynamic characters essentially enhance the relationships that these particular characters have with each other. One character who I felt was morally ambiguous was June. June expressed traits of a unresponsible mother. For example, instead of going home to her two kids on a Saturday night, she decided to hang out with a guy she barely had known and ended up becoming sexually involved with him. An insight into her thoughts of him "being different"(pg. 3) implies that she has been involved with multiple other men that had gone bad. In fact, she had fought a lot with her husband and gave birth to another man's child while still married. In addition, June's niece Albertine states: "June had no patience with children. She wasn't much as a mother;"(pg. 8) This goes to show that June had her flaws as a mother of two and the people around her were definitely aware of that. However, "whatever she lacked as a mother, June was a good aunt..."(pg. 8) June's treatment to her niece Albertine emphasizes the ambiguity of her character. Albertine declares that her aunt was giving and treated her as if she was mature. June is considered ambiguous because she treats her own offspring bad but is able to express affection and respect to her niece.


Question: What circumstances do you think would make a person morally ambiguous?


message 6: by Natalie (last edited Aug 25, 2016 05:15PM) (new)

Natalie | 12 comments Natalie Roque

In Louise Erdrich's novel, Love Medicine, various morally ambiguous characters appear throughout the story, eventually effecting the plot little by little. One specific character which stood out to me in the beginning of the story was King, June's son. King's character is portrayed as silent and mysterious when he is introduced along with his wife and son but as the story develops we start to notice strange and erratic behavior out of him at random moments. These outbursts, so to speak, may serve as foreshadowing something big and eruptive later on in the story. For example, when he arrives at the house where Albertine and the rest of the family are staying, he tends to make snarky remarks about his wife in a disrespectful manner without cause, "Oh she don't know nothing, she never been to school" (p. 26). When I read this I automatically inferred that he thought very little of his wife. Later on, we are introduced to his aggressive side when him and his wife are found in a fight inside of their car, ""I'll kill you! Gimme the keys!" (p. 35) and he yells out a specific phrase while on the ground, "it's awful to be dead. Oh my God, she's so cold" (p. 35) speaking about his deceased mother and can signal out what he's actually feeling emotionally inside of him. While he can demonstrate something on the outside, his actions and his words can say otherwise. His character basically reveals itself throughout this part of the story, holding that un-forgiveness in his heart and those unresolved emotions regarding his mother's death truly gives readers a strong opinion of him but it is neither a bad nor a good opinion because although his actions were inexcusable, we as readers have to fully understand all of the circumstances surrounding a character before making a concrete opinion of them.


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Kellany Marin | 9 comments Kellany Marin
In the novel Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich many of the characters play a morally ambiguous roll in the novel. A character that stood out to me while reading this book is Lulu Lamartine also known as née Nanapush as a reader it can become a confusing to identify Lulu as an evil character or as a good one because her character takes many different directions throughout the story that doesn’t make it clear for the reader. An example of Lulus mixture of good and bad a great example is she is a mother to more than one child and although she does come off as a woman that sleeps with any men she manages to raise all her children without a constant stable man in her life (pg113-114) “Bev noticed, while the older ones adored her to the point that they did not tolerate anything less from anyone else” this part stood out to me because it shows her how nurturing she is to her children and the abundance of love they have for her and a mother who is not in her children’s life would most likely not receive this obsession from her children. When Lulu had her problem with the tribe that situation came off as a two sided situation of selfishness and selflessness very opposite words which proves to the reader that Lulu is a morally ambiguous character throughout the book.
Question: which two things from each character (personality, actions,verbal expression ect.) make them most morally ambiguous to the reader?


message 8: by Erica (new)

Erica Sarria | 7 comments Erica Sarria
In Louise Erdrich’s novel “Love Medicine” one character that stands out most to me happens to be Marie Lazarre Kashpaw. Kashpaw had a big desire towards Catholicism ever since she was a younger girl. Her ambitions towards the church were outstanding and out of this world. She is a very relevant character in the novel because she plays a rather big role, larger that most characters in the novel anyways. Her views start to shift once Sister Leopolda starts to take care of her but the problem is that she's a bit sadistic. Kashpaw usually comes off as a strong girl but she's soft inside once you get past the hard exterior. Marie manages to keep her cool while sister leopolda was being a rather rude person. Marie is usually an ambitious character all throughout the novel.


message 9: by Luis (new)

Luis Mentado | 8 comments Luis Mentado

In “Love Medicine” by Louise Erdrich, a multitude of morally ambiguous characters are presented. One of the most prominent being Marie Kashpaw, this being that she is presented as a motherly figure as well as a religious teen which was marked by the devil. At a point in her life, Marie wanted to become a nun and join the convent but failed to do so when she had a falling out with sister Leopald. A falling out that would make her run away, later in her life she falls in love with Nector Kashpaw and has five kids. Throughout the story Marie is seen more as a person that has gone through struggles in her life rather then a heroic or evil figure. For the rest of her life she is to carry a reminder of her life as a young girl (a scar given to her by sister Leopald). All in all she is a woman with a simple life that is deemed as one of a motherly figure and is portrayed as an ambiguous character that overcame adversity.


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Solange | 13 comments Solange Cordovi
In Love Medicine, by Louise Erdrish, there are a variety of morally ambiguous characters since throughout the story the reader is introduced to some interesting scenarios. One of the most notable morally ambiguous characters is that of June Morrissey. As the reader, I have mixed feeling about June’s decision to not claim Lipsha as her son. June had an affair with a maned named Gerry and in return became the mother of a young man named Lipsha Morrissey. Abandoned by his mother at a young age, Lipsha sought parental guidance from adoptive parents Nector and Marie Kashpaw. Although he was raised with parental figures, he has always seemed to keep this inner anger towards his biological parents. This internal hatred is evident on page 39 in which he states, “’As for my mother.’ Be went on, ‘even if she came back right now and got down on her knees and said ‘Son I am sorry for what I done to you,’ I would not relent her.’” June’s decision to leave him has left him with deep wounds. Worst of all is that he is unable to make emends with his biological mother due to her sudden passing. Thankfully Lipsha is able to heal and find inner peace by reuniting with his father. He finally felt like he emerged from somewhere and found comfort in the thought of belonging. June’s approach could’ve been more thoughtful when it came to her children, because a child expects the one person to be for there for them is the parent, therefore imagine the damage that is caused once that comfort is taken away so young.
In response to Aaron’s question I believe that consequences such as a broken past can lead someone to become morally ambiguous. A scenario in which not all the love, guidance, or care were given which can result in bad decisions. If either faced with the right or wrong circumstances the outlook of life would change, but it all depends on one’s story and the life they’ve survived.
Question: Refer back to what I wrote, and decide for yourself whether June is morally ambiguous or not. Explain.


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Xayanjely Lopez | 14 comments Xayanjely Lopez

In Louise Erdrich's "Love Medicine", King Howard Kashpaw could most probably pass as an evil character in the book. However, given his back story readers may sympathize with him. King, although seemed bratty and was primarily abusive, was only really like that because that is how he was brought up. He grew up seeing that his dad abuse his mom so that is what he thought was normal. Apart from that his mom died and his father was jailed which made him even more emotionally unstable. Any type of psychologist would easily suggest that he is mentally wounded and is suffering from trauma. Mental illnesses can mess anyone up making them do things they aren't aware of and that they likely don't want to do. Mostly to blame for King's behavior is his parents. He is misjudged by his "loved ones" which is the opposite of what he needs. Instead of getting emotional support he is getting neglected by those that are literally closest to him. For this reason i'd categorize King as a morally ambiguous character in the book.

Question: What factors play in making a character morally ambiguous ?


message 12: by Sharon (last edited Aug 25, 2016 09:56PM) (new)

Sharon Manosalva (SMANOSALVA) | 7 comments Sharon Manosalva

In "Love Medicine" by Louise Erdrich, an example of a morally ambiguous character in the novel would have to be Lulu Lamartine. Lulu Lamartine can be controversially seen as both good and bad, as told in the novel Lulu had a prominent reputation of being a scarlet, but also a good mother to her eight children. In Love Medicine, Lulu becomes apart of an affair, coming between the marriage of Marie and Nector, but that wasn't enough for Lulu. That was just the start of her journey of getting between marriages and the satisfaction of committed men, in which she took no shame in committing, but rather a sense of confidence and pride. Though, even with all her unsympathetic acts, Lulu Lamartine made it her priority to attend to her children and be the mother they needed. Each child belonging to a different father, Lulu being without a partner, still managed to raise her children by herself. Lulu put her children first before her own being, protecting her children at all costs. As told in the novel, Lulu's rather promiscuous actions led her to fade from her connection with her heritage, but as she became more self aware , Lulu was able to regain the lost relationship between who she was becoming and her true identity.


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Arael Ruiz (arael67) | 8 comments Arael Ruiz
Several characters in this book can be considered morally ambiguous. an excellent example would be Nector Kapshaw. From very early in the work the reader finds out that has had feelings for Lulu practically all his life, insinuating that he is a good person capable of love. However, after several years of marriage with a woman invested in him, he attempts to leave her. Not only leave her, but go the morally wrong way about it and write Marie a note instead of talking it out in person. On the other hand, he attempts to hurt Marie in order to finally be with the woman he really loves, Lulu. Can it be considered evil to try to leave your wife of several years who is a good wife for another woman that far into the marriage? Or is it correct to because he is attempting to follow his heart? On top of that, lets say it was correct because he was doing what he thought was right, when he gets to Lulus house for the marriage proposal, he sets it on fire by accident and just bails, and Runs back to Marie since his plan failed, planning to retrieve the note he left for her before she sees it.


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Jay | 13 comments Jayri Santos

In “love Medicine” written by Louise Erdrich there are a lot of ambiguous characters who a play pivotal role in the novel such as Gerry, Marie, Lulu etc. But there is a character that in my opinion is the most ambiguous of all Nector kashpaw. He is caught in a love affair between loving two wonderful women and hurting them both at the same time which causes him to be ambiguous because the audience doesn’t know whether he is pure good or just pure evil.(Page 125) “Then I fell in love for real. Lulu Nanapush was the one who made me greedy…” (Page 125) “Then Marie appeared …” Nector can be seen as pure good because he marries Marie and have children. But he can also seem as pure evil because he tries to both leave Marie and the children and he burns down Lulu’s house down which causes her to lose her hair. (Page 144) “I watch the letter burn….The fire was unstoppable.” His moral ambiguous is important is important to the book as a whole because without it most of the characters wouldn’t be the way they are now so it’s needed in the book.


message 15: by Tajae (new)

Tajae | 7 comments In Louise Erdich's novel love medicine provides many different examples of a character being morally ambiguous, a great example being Nector Kapshaw a devoted husband who spent most of his life with the woman he loves, the woman he bestowed his life upon. But after several years into the marriage he wanted to leave the woman he loves for another "Lulu". Now think would it be morally wrong to leave the woman, the person, the person you have bestowed your life upon to leave it for another woman. Would that not be morally ambiguous or is Nector Kapshaw doing the right thing. A person would think of it as morally wrong.


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Gerardo Alemany | 4 comments In the novel "love medicine" there are many actions that are morally questionable. For example when Marie joins the nuns and is under Leopoldas tutelage, many of the things she went threw were odd considering Leopolda is a nun and devoted to god. Many of Kings drunk rages also seemed morally questionable.


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Sergio | 11 comments Sergio Gomez
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Throughout Louise Erdich's "Love Medicine", moral ambiguity can be seen inmost of the characters. One example of a morally ambiguous character is Nector Kashpaw. Nector marries Marie around the beginning of the novel but soon starts an affair with Lulu. With this affair, Nector leaves Marie for Lulu but runs back to Marie when he accidentally burns down Lulu's house. This moral ambiguousness is important as it not only many other stories to continue because of Nector's deeds but also paints shows that many people are not only completely good or bad


message 18: by Luis (new)

Luis Gonzalez | 8 comments Louis Erdrich's numerous morally ambiguous characters are defined by their lack of clarity to which they can't make ethical decisions. One main morally ambiguous character is Lulu. Her actions and attentive care of her children are not so much understood by her or the reader. Lulu is aware that Moses is her cousin but that does not stop her from seducing him. Although, Lulu is an excellent mother, she allows Nector to cheat on his wife with her, while also having numerous relationships with other men. The reader could understand that Lulu does not know the difference between right or wrong.


message 19: by Christopher (new)

Christopher Munoz | 7 comments In Love Medicine, Nector Kashpaw is considered a morally ambiguous character. Nector has done some serious things that have affected his way of life with his family. Such as coming home drunk or not coming at all; but at the same time, when he comes home from work, he has the money from his job to support his family which has totally affected his relationship with Marie. On page 133 "...no way I could have Lulu but one-to leave Marie-which was not possible," Nector has to pick between Lulu or Marie to spend the rest of his life with them. In this case, Nector decides to write a letter for Marie to declare his love for Lulu. This is where Nector negative side shows up. He decides to abandon his kids and wife just to declare his love for Lulu in which he doesn't receive at the end. Before all this happened, Nector has an affair with Lulu while he is in a marriage with Marie. This can be considered a good or bad motive depending on how others see it. Nector never told Marie about Lulu as for he was trying to protect his relationship with her which can be considered a good motive. Meanwhile, all this time he was secretly doing it behind Marie's back which is considered a bad motive.


message 20: by Bryan (new)

Bryan | 12 comments Bryan Rojas

In Louise Erdrich novel Love Medicine readers are introduced to a variety of characters each with their own significant backstories and points of views of those around them. These characters who face situations that most people would consider a bit strange make decisions that could be considered controversial. Yet the character Marie Kashpaw impacts the book in a huge way, and shows the reader the definition of an ambiguous character. When the reader is first introduced to Marie’s backstory we are given the details of her life at the age of 14 spending her time at a mission because she believed she can be seen as an equal to others through praying, not to be seen as a native girl. But one of the nuns named Sister Leopolda who thought the devil had interest in her abused her and even pouring boiling water on her. After being injured and receving a false praise Marie always wanted, she runs away and later marries Nector Kashpaw. She protects Nector and her family, even going as far as protecting him from his drinking problems even though he loved another woman. Marie fought for a man she didn’t have too for, she was the heart and soul of the family keeping it in place. Marie seem to never break even after every problem she ever faced, an example of this is when she gives a painful birth and not even once showing the slightest bit of pain. Marie’s character can be one the stronger and fearless characters in the novel.


message 21: by Crystal (new)

Crystal | 12 comments Crystal Verdecia


Louise Erdrich creates many charcters that are morally ambiguous in “Love Medicine” like Lulu,Nector, Marie, and June.But one character that stands out the most as a morally ambiguous chacter is Nector because his life choices. He starts off with saying that the Lulu is the one; the one he wants but everything changes when he encounters Marie. Then Nector chooses her Marie to be his bride and the one to love for the rest of his life. After years of being married to Marie ,Nector begins to think about Lulu. Thoughts about another woman, yikes! He later runs into Lulu and ends up having sex with her.Nector carried this affair for years till one day he decided to leave Marie for Lulu.To leave his family for Lulu. So far all of his actions seemed to be negative and like an evil to thing to do to someone you “love”. But then it becomes even more confusing; Nector goes to Lulu’s house to tell her that he left Marie and was ready for her but Nector gets this feeling of regret. He realized that Marie was the one and he feels terrible for his selfish act. He was so lost in the thought about Marie that he didn’t even care about the fire he caused burning Lulu’s house. This makes the reader question Nector’s goodness because Nector stop thinking about Lulu and thought Marie.He went back to his family. He went back to Marie for who was his actual love. Which Nector not such a bad guy after all.


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