Love Medicine

Love Medicine Summary and Analysis of Chapter 6: Lulu's Boys (1993 and 2009 edition)


This chapter takes place in 1957. It is narrated in a third-person limited point of view, focusing on Beverly "Hat" Lamartine. He and Lulu Lamartine had had a one-night affair eight years before, and Beverly is the father of one of Lulu's eight sons. Beverly lives in the Twin Cities with his girlfriend Elsa, a white woman with blonde hair. In terms of employment, Beverly sells after-school homework enrichment books door-to-door, and his girlfriend is a typist. For years, Beverly has shown his customers a picture of his son with Lulu and has made up inspiring stories about his son's accomplishments. At the beginning of the chapter, Beverly decides that he wants to go back to the reservation and bring his son home with him, away from Lulu. 

Beverly's brother Henry was married to Lulu until his death in 1950. Henry died while driving drunk, and at his funeral Lulu caused a scene by jumping into his grave. While people saw this as a sign of her love for Henry, Lulu is also a notorious flirt. Even when Beverly comes to reclaim his son Henry Junior, Lulu finds herself thinking of her husband.

Beverly meets Henry Junior and the rest of Lulu's sons. They are all active and loud boys who are protective of one another. In addition, they are all deeply devoted to their mother, who keeps a clean and welcoming house without the help of any man.

Lulu and Beverly sit down to reminisce while the boys play outside. The two ex-lovers remember playing strip poker one night years ago, with Henry as the third player. On that night, Lulu had decided to marry Henry over Beverly. Lulu brags about her boys and Beverly sees Lulu's son Gerry - a big 12 year-old who will one day become a criminal - teaching young Henry Junior how to shoot. While the boys are outside for the afternoon, Lulu and Beverly have a romantic encounter.

Later, everyone in the household eats dinner together, while Beverly grows confused about whether he wants to take his son or not. He remembers his first and only time sleeping with Lulu. In the present scene, Lulu goes to sleep and Beverly contemplates sneaking out and forgetting all that has happened. He is on the verge of leaving when he walks into Lulu's bedroom and lies down in her arms.



This chapter deals with the difficult topics of social stigma and personal infidelity. Lulu has raised children from many fathers and the community gossips about her because of this, yet she does not seem to mind and lives her life without much regard for public judgment. To all outward appearances, she is a loving and attentive mother. Yet Erdrich allows the reader a glimpse into Lulu's private thoughts: "She thought of everything so hard that her mind felt warped and sodden as a door that swells up in spring. It would not close properly to keep the troublesome thoughts out." From this description at the beginning of the chapter, it is clear that however calm Lulu may seem during the events that follow, she feels the pangs of her choices very deeply.

Both Beverly and Lulu have committed adultery at some point: Lulu cheated on her husband Henry, with the result that she gave birth to a child by his brother Beverly. In the story's present, Beverly is in a committed relationship yet still responds to Lulu's advances. Yet of the two, Lulu appears to be better able to rationalize her infidelity. "I am a woman of detachable parts," she says half-jokingly at one point in the chapter. Beverly himself is caught between two worlds: he is both attracted to Lulu and drawn to the life he has created with Elsa outside the reservation. Infidelity, for him, is not only cheating on his girlfriend but also cheating on the lifestyle he has built. These troubled loyalties tie into Erdrich's broader interest in problems of assimilation.