English Senior Inquiry

Document Type

Student Paper

Publication Date

Spring 2023

Description, Abstract, or Artist's Statement

In her novel Love Medicine, among her other works, Louise Erdrich displays an overt interest in American religions. She especially probes the tensions between Christianity, imported by European colonizers, and indigenous spiritual traditions. Gender is another prominent concern of Erdrich's writing; here also, she juxtaposes native and settler concepts of gender, underscoring indigenous women's struggles in the twentieth century. Both of these topics have already been explored, though often separately. Erdrich curiously places food imagery, sometimes unassuming and sometimes bizarre, at the intersections of religion and gender throughout the novel. Erdrich draws on Catholic traditions solidified in medieval Europe as she identifies women with food and with God in the symbols of bread and milk. While the character of Marie Lazarre represents indigenous women's grim Catholic destiny to be reconstituted and consumed, Lulu Nanapush serves herself with a native magic that inverts male characters' attempts to subdue and exploit her and her family. As Erdrich investigates the relationships between consumer/consumed and empowered/disempowered, she reveals these messy categories' potential to defy received belief.


1st Place Long Analytical Essay Winner, 2023

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.