Love Medicine

Water Imagery and Symbolism in Love Medicine College

Louise Erdrich’s novel Love Medicine conveys the state of Native American life in today’s society. Her symbolism stands out to me above all else in the book. While Erdrich uses many symbols and motifs, the most poignant is her water and river imagery and the symbolism behind it. She uses water to symbolize many concepts in the novel, most prominently time and religion. The passage of time being likened to the movement of a river is not an unprecedented idea due to the endless flow of a river being easily equated with time. However, Erdrich points out the destructive force that such a power of nature has and likens the people in her story to stones on a riverbed. Through symbolism, she illustrates the effect time and religion have had on Native American society and how those two concepts, as eroding forces, are simply consequences of modern American society’s effect on Native American culture.

The most prominent example of Erdrich’s symbolism can be found in Nector Kashpaw’s realization and acknowledgement of the passage of time as she illustrates time and its effect on the characters of the novel. In a moment of peace, Nector has a revelation that changes his life. As the world around him stills, Nector sees time rushing past...

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