Love Medicine

Love Medicine Summary and Analysis of Chapter 14: Resurrection (1993 and 2009 edition)


This story takes place in 1982. It is told in the third person and focuses on Marie and Gordie.

Marie is cleaning her house and sorting through Nector's belongings, and finds a beautiful old decorative pipe that she puts away for Lipsha. She rises early the next day to cook. At dawn, Gordie appears outside the house before passing out in the grass. A little later, Marie finds Gordie eating vast quantities of food and searching for money.

Gordie is drunk, dirty, and foul-smelling. Marie offers him a shirt to wear but he gets upset when he realizes that the shirt was once June's. When Marie offers him a sweatshirt, also once June's, Gordie lapses into a crazed, drunken fit; he hurls himself around the kitchen and eventually passes out again. Marie cleans up after him and continues with her cooking. Gordie then wakes up and asks her for alcohol. After she says that she doesn't have any, he tries to hit her, but she cuts him on the hand with her cooking knife first. Gordie jokes that he and Marie have matching hand scars now. He sits and thinks and reminisces about the year he married June.

In that year, Gordie and June had walked for hours one morning to reach a Minnesota lake. They rented a room in a long-closed cluster of vacation cottages. The man who ran the cottages helped them move a mattress into the empty honeymoon suite and gave them gear to catch their own fish. June and Gordie went for a swim. They swam far into the middle of the lake and tried to have sex, but were unable to stay afloat. They swam back to shore and tried to have sex in their cabin, but their cabin was stifling hot and full of mosquitoes. They fell asleep and woke up feeling uncomfortable the next day. That day, they fished, swam, and ate. They held hands on the dock and fell asleep holding hands.

Back in the present, Marie is standing outside when she smells chemicals and rushes back inside. Gordie has drunk her Lysol and is in an intoxicated rage just as before, smashing and damaging things in her house. He finally falls asleep, twitching, in her bed. Marie sits in a chair by the door to her house, ready to confront Gordie and stop him from leaving if he wakes up. She even has an ax in her hand. Gordie wakes up once and walks around, but ends up back in bed. Marie will not let him go because she fears that he will accidentally kill himself. He is her firstborn, and she vows to protect him from his own self-destruction. In the end, he apparently dies.



This chapter reveals the depth of Marie's fierce motherly love for her firstborn child Gordie. She knows all Gordie's vices, but nonetheless vows to protect him -- or to kill him if he tries to go against her and leave. A telling scene occurs when Marie sees Gordie looking for money in the cupboard where she had once hid envelopes of money: "Where she used to keep them. Now she had another place." This quotation reveals that Marie has anticipated this behavior from Gordie. Despite everything Gordie has put her though, including theft, Marie is still devoted to him. Yet this quote reveals that she also knows how to protect herself.

Erdrich further explores Marie's double-instinct of self-protection and love for her son throughout the chapter. When Gordie tries to hit Marie in the kitchen, she cuts his hand with a knife. When Gordie half-destroys Marie's house in a Lysol-fueled rage, she vows to keep him safe from accidentally killing himself, which she is sure he will do if he leaves the house. She guards the front door and arms herself with an ax. Erdrich's descriptions of Marie's stoic tolerance of Gordie's shortcomings reveal how loyal a mother Marie is and how fierce a personality Marie generally has.

This chapter also abounds in Christ imagery. It is titled "Resurrection", an allusion to the resurrection of Jesus. Erdrich clearly portrays Gordie as a (rather uncharacteristic) Christ figure in the chapter, a depiction that begins when his mother cuts him on the hand and gives him his own "stigmata." Gordie had also gone fishing on his honeymoon, a tangential reference to Jesus's miraculous catch of fish. He and Lulu swim in the lake and she pushes him under in a motion that resembles a baptism. And at the end of the chapter, Marie tells herself that, no matter how much Gordie may be chasing his own death, he will rise from his Lysol haze in three days, even though he appears to die of an overdose: "On the third day he would rise though, she thought. He would rise and walk. She sat firm in her chair and did not let go of the ax."

Most notable about this chapter, though, is its description of June as a young woman. So far, Erdrich has portrayed June as a silent girl and as a weathered middle-aged woman. Here she is Gordie's young bride, full of love and hope. As Gordie tries to drink himself to death in despair over her passing, the reader finally learns a bit about their early years together as the loves of each other's lives.