In the novel based on the multigenerational connection of two Native American Indian families, “Love Medicine” by Louise Erdrich, there is considerable contrast between the two characters, King and Lipshaw. Both men bear a direct relationship to the two main families of the novel, the Lamartines and the Kapshaws, in more ways then one. This adds to the intrigue and secrets that abound in the lives of both men. Of particular interest is the personality contrariety that positions King as an aggressive irrational man and Lipshaw as a kinder gentler man.
King is known to be similar in personality to his father Gordie. His mother June possessed her own form of dignity but the abuse of Gordie, her husband, proved to be too much for her at times. She eventually left Gordie. King however was raised mostly by his mother’s aunt and actually his father’s mother. He was handsome enough but his general disposition and drink led King to carry an air of intimidation most of the time. King cam across as constantly angry at the world.
In contrast was the disposition of Lipshaw Morrissey. Described in the book as “more a listener than a talker, a shy one with a wide, sweet, intelligent face.” It was a common occurrence as children that King would beat up Lipshaw. Lipshaw, himself a drinker as most of the men on the Indian reservation tended to be, was able to carry himself in a more reserved manner even when he drank too much. His drinking tended to allow him the ability to reflect rather than lash out as was customary for King. Lipshaw was also angry. His anger stemmed from the fact that his mother dropped him at his Grandma Kapshaw’s and he never knew who his mother or father was. Lipshaw held his anger about this inside but the hate for his mother was evident in Lipshaw’s statement, “I can never forgive what she done to a little child,…They had to rescue me out of her grip…As for my mother,…even if she came back right now, this minute, and got down on her knees and said ‘Son, I am sorry for what I done to you,’ I would not relent on her.”
Even with his enveloping anger, Lipshaw directed this anger quite differently than King.