Albertine is the only child of Zelda Kashpaw and Swede Johnson. She was born around 1958. Her father left before her birth, and Albertine has a difficult relationship with her mother. Albertine is a rebellious teen and often runs away from home. When she is fifteen, she meets Henry Lamartine Junior in Fargo and has sex with him. Years later she works with Dot Adare at a truck weighing site and befriends both Dot and Gerry Nanapush when Dot is pregnant. She eventually goes to nursing school, then decides to continue on and become a doctor. She is close to her cousin Lipsha.
The mud engineer whom June Morrissey meets on the night she dies.
Nector and Marie's daughter, and Gordie and Zelda's younger sister. When they are children, Aurelia and Gordie try to hang June. Years later, when Marie and Nector move to the Senior Citizens, Aurelia takes care of the family house.
Beverly "Hat" Lamartine
Henry Lamartine's brother and Lulu Lamartine's third husband for a short time. After Henry's death, Lulu and Beverly have a brief affair; Beverly is led to assume that one of Lulu's children, Henry Junior, is his. He returns to the reservation seven years later to claim his son and ends up marrying Lulu.
Lulu's last child, born when Lulu was near 50 and fathered by a Mexican migrant worker.
Gerry Nanapush's wife and the mother of Gerry's daughter Shawn. Dot and Albertine work together at a truck weighing site, and Albertine is with her in the hospital when she is giving birth; during this ordeal, Gerry narrowly escapes arrest by the local authorities.
Nector's brother and the son of Rushes Bear and Kashpaw. Eli's mother kept him from getting a government education, while Nector was sent to school. A recluse who knows how to live off the land, Eli raises June after her mother dies.
Lulu's mother, a respected and feared medicine woman. Also known as Old Lady Pillager.
The second-born of Lulu's two sons with Moses Pillager. As a young man, Gerry has an affair with June Morrissey, who is older than he is. Throughout his life, Gerry has repeatedly escaped from prison, only to get sent back and have more time added to his sentence. He becomes a Chippewa hero due to his escapades and is an activist during the little time he spends out of confinement. Gerry impregnates Dot Adare when she visits him in prison and he escapes to be with her when she gives birth, but ends up having to run away from the hospital when the police show up. At the end of the novel he reconnects with his son Lipsha, who drives him to the Canadian border after another prison break-out.
Nector and Marie's oldest son, and June's cousin and eventual husband. As a child, Gordie and his sister Aurelia try to hang June. Gordie and June elope to South Dakota to marry, and spend their honeymoon in a closed vacation cottage complex on a lake in Minnesota. Gordie and June have a difficult marriage: he abuses her and she cheats on him. They have one child, King. Gordie becomes an alcoholic after June dies, and ultimately commits suicide by drinking Lysol.
Henry Lamartine Junior
Beverly and Lulu's son, conceived the night of Henry's funeral. He is close to his half-brother Lyman, and the two get into many adventures together; one summer, they buy a red convertible together and drive up to Alaska. He enlists in the Marines and is sent to Vietnam, and comes home a changed man: angry, sad, and alcoholic after his experience as a prisoner of war. He has drunken sex with Albertine in Fargo when she is fifteen, and has a vivid and violent hallucination after this experience. After a changed and unhappy Henry returns to the reservation, Lyman purposefully breaks parts of the convertible to try to bring Henry out of his shell. This ploy works for a while, since Henry begins to fix the car. Yet he drowns to death in the Red River one day; Lyman, who watches as his brother disappears, sends the car into the river after Henry is gone.
Henry Lamartine Senior
Lulu's second husband and Beverly's brother. He and Lulu marry out of genuine fondness for one another; their union is inspired by a game of strip poker involving Lulu, Henry, and Beverly. Henry dies in a car and train accident, which Lulu sees as an accident but which Marie understands as was suicide in response to Lulu's promiscuity.
June is the daughter of Marie's sister Lucille and a Morrissey man. She has a turbulent marriage to Gordie and is the mother of King Kashpaw. She has an affair with Gerry and bears their child Lipsha, but hands Lipsha over to be raised by Nector and Marie. June's mother died when June was a girl, so that June ended up being raised by Eli Kashpaw after a short stint with Marie and Nector. The middle-aged June dies at the beginning of the novel in a heavy Easter snowstorm; apparently she had been trying to walk home from Williston, North Dakota, but did not succeed.
King Howard Kashpaw
June and Gordie's son. King grows up in a troubled household where June is often absent and Gordie often abuses his wife. He becomes a violent adult as a result of this upbringing. He marries Lynette and they have a son, King Junior; this family of three lives in the Twin Cities. At the end of the novel, when Lipsha visits King, it becomes evident that King has neglected his intelligent son and lies about his activities in Vietnam. He did, however, spend time in Stillwater prison with Gerry and has betrayed his relative's escape plans.
King Howard Kashpaw Junior
King and Lynette's intelligent young son, who teaches himself to read by watching Sesame Street and enters first grade a year early.
A nun at the Sacred Heart Convent who agrees to be Marie's sponsor when Marie declares her wish to become a nun. Leopolda professes her love for Marie in violent ways, including scalding the younger woman with burning water. She is especially devout and self-denying, and often finds her faith through pain and self-harm.
June and Gerry's child, raised by Marie and Nector and ignorant of his parentage until the end of the book. Lipsha possesses healing powers and tries to work love medicine on his grandparents, but his efforts result in Nector's death by choking. He forms a close bond with his cousin Albertine.
The daughter of Fleur Pillager, raised by Nanapush and Margaret after her repeated attempts to run away from the reservation school. She has eight sons and one daughter, several of these children by different fathers. Her various love interests include Nector Kashpaw, Moses Pillager, Henry Lamartine, Beverly Lamartine, and a Mexican migrant worker. She is a strong woman, self-sufficient and unconcerned with what people say about her. In her later years, she becomes a tribal affairs activist.
Lulu's son with Nector Kashpaw, conceived in the course of a five-year affair. He is skilled at earning money and takes after his father. He is also very close to his brother Henry, and Henry's despair and death deeply affect Lyman. Later in life he works for the Bureau of Indian Affairs and runs a factory that makes Chippewa trinkets.
Margaret (Rushes Bear) Kashpaw
Popularly known as Rushes Bear, Margaret the original Kashpaw and had twelve children, including Eli and Nector. She allows Nector to be sent to a government school but keeps Eli home; all her older children have moved to Montana to receive their government land allotments.
King's caucasian wife and the mother of King "Howard" Junior. She and King have an chaotic and tense relationship.
Along with Lulu, a central female character and mother figure in the novel. Marie grew up in a poor family and was only able to come to town for church. She wants to join the convent but ends up clashing bitterly with Sister Leopolda, who eventually marks Marie with a fateful hand injury. Marie meets Nector as she is running away from the convent. They fall in love, marry, and remain together until Nector's death. They have five children: Gordie, Zelda, Aurelia, Patsy, and Eugene. They also have two children who die. Marie takes in many children from the reservation, including Lipsha. She and Lulu become friends in their later years at the Senior Citizens after Nector's death. Marie he also becomes an activist in her old age.
Lulu's first lover, with whom she had two children, including Gerry. Moses survived an epidemic during his childhood but became a recluse and moved to an island overrun with cats. Lulu seeks him out and has an affair with him; she leaves him after more than ten years together, some time after Gerry's birth, because Moses will not move to town.
The last survivor of his family, an elderly man born in the mid-1800s. When Lulu is a child, Nanapush takes her in after she runs away from boarding school. He is also the husband of Margaret or "Rushes Bear."
The youngest son of Margaret (Rushes Bear) and Kashpaw. He is sent to government school and eventually marries Marie. She pushes him to be involved in tribal politics, and Nector eventually becomes chairman of the tribe. He has a five-year affair with Lulu, during which they conceive a son, Lyman. In his later years, Nector grows senile and reignites his affair with Lulu when he, she, and Marie are all living in the Senior Citizens. He dies by choking on a turkey heart, which had been intended as "love medicine" by Lipsha and Marie.
Nector and Marie's oldest daughter and the mother of Albertine. Zelda was a shy child who wanted to be a nun until Albertine was born. She and Albertine have a difficult relationship.
Love Medicine Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Love Medicine is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.