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In her book, 'LaRose,' author Louise Erdrich employs a slew of characters, including Landreaux, Emmaline, Peter, Nola, and others, to convey key themes to her readers. The book begins with a disaster, when an Ojibwe man, Landreaux Iron, was chasing a deer through the woods when he mistakenly shoots and kills a neighbor's 5-year-old boy. Landreaux and his wife Emmaline were so consumed with grief that they sought advice from a priest about how to proceed. As a kind of compensation, they were forced to surrender their 5-year-old son to a neighbor the next day (Erdrich 21). It was a painful step for the couple, giving out their only son. Moreover, the core intention of the author was to communicate a number of themes to the readers, such as tragedy, loss and redemption, love, justice, kinship, and others. This paper pays high attention to the analysis of the manner in which the author has revealed the theme of loss and redemption in her novel.
Loss and Redemption
There are numerous ways in which the author tried to reveal and communicate this theme. For example, the action of Landreaux shooting and killing his neighbor`s 5-year old son and then compensating his neighbor with his 5-year old son was a loss and a redemption that occurred at almost at the same time. The author organized the scene in such a way that the neighbor`s son would come between Landreaux and the deer, and this contributed to the development of her novel. The fact that this incidence happens as the opener of the novel confirms the author`s determination of revealing the theme of loss and redemption (Erdrich 27).
Moreover, the author sensitizes the current generation that lives in the contemporary world concerning the aspect of making the family whole again, by providing justice rather than money. Precisely, in the modern world, when n individual`s rights are violated and he or she tries to seek justice by filing a law case in the courts of law, justice is granted in form of the offender being forced to compensate the complainant with money. Through reading this Erdrich`s novel reminds me of the death of Tamir Rice, a twelve-year old young boy who was shot and killed by law enforncers in Cleveland, Ohio in 2014 (Eliott n.p). The young boy was a black American and holding a toy gun at the time he was killed. The funny part of it was that the police officers were not punished for this crime but the family was compensated $6 million for Rice`s death, and this was after his parents filed a lawsuit against the city. This is the core characteristic of the modern American culture.
Subsequently, through Landreaux`s action of accidentally shooting and killing the young boy and compensating his neighbor with his son, the author argues that it is challenging to categorize and action on whether it is good or bad. Precisely, though the incident occurred by accident, Landreaux failed to will away his feelings of moral culpability and guilt. He feels that killing, whether intentional or accidental is a bad thing, and for that he has become a bad person in the society. This is the core factor that stimulated him to give out his only son. Precisely, the spirit of the young boy who was accidentally shot by Landreaux appeared to LaRose and confirmed that his death was by accident (Erdrich 117). It is unfortunate that most individuals in the modern society do not have such feelings within them, and they are actually comfortable and happy when they commit a crime such as killing and go unnoticed or without facing the full force of the law.
In addition, the author makes superb use of food as an avian of redemption. Precisely, LaRose was depressed with the fact that he had to accept his parent`s decision of giving him out to the neighbor in order to make the latter`s family whole again. As the wise men put it, ‘Blood is thicker than water’ it was challenging for LaRose to leave his family and become part of another family that he had not used to (Erdrich 51). In order to help LaRose to adapt to the shock, the Erdrich reveals how the foster sisters and mother Nola were determined to bake elaborate cakes for LaRose. This has been the trend even in the contemporary world, where parents prepare or buy special foods for visitors as a way of welcoming them. Moreover, when Romeo`s son won a competition of building a tower out of uncooked spaghetti noodles and marshmallows, the community holds a big feast which serves as a celebration for the win. In the feast, Erdrich offers sheet cakes, potato salad and barbecue (Erdrich 249-254). Though there was no loss in this scenario, the author portrays the theme of redemption through the use of food to a larger extent.
Consecutively, Romeo was initially described by a reservation`s priest as satanic, and the residents of the assisted-living home are the cornerstone of this novel`s unexpected comedy. The elders punished Romeo for stealing their drugs, and this was established after he took the concoction that the elders had set aside in order to establish the thief based on the signs that would result to the thief. Precisely, after taking this concoction, he had uncontrollable diarrhea and an unstoppable erection. Additionally, Romeo was keen on settling a grudge that he bore on Landreaux since when they are both young boys (Erdrich 76). In order to achieve this, Romeo was determined in convincing Peter (the father to the five-year old boy who was killed by Landreaux) that the death of his son was not accidental, but intentional.
The author portrayed Romeo as an embarrassment or bad element in the society in order to convey the teachings that an individual who has been initially disgraceful to the society can change, and be a source of blessings to the same society. This is the same Romeo that the author has portrayed as the winner of a competition that involved building a tower through the use of uncooked spaghetti noodles and marshmallows (Erdrich 123-125). This supports the author`s determination of portraying the theme of loss and redemption.
Additionally, the author depicts that there had been LaRose in each generation of Landreaux`s family for over a hundred years. She also reveals that Emmaline`s mother and grandmother were named LaRose and though the ancestors who had been named LaRose were all dead, the aspect of giving birth to the young LaRose is a redemption to this family`s name. Erdrich also reveals how the first LaRose was sold by her mother in exchange for a mixture of tobacco, red pepper and raw distilled spirits (Erdrich 36). This shows that the name LaRose had been lost in numerous instances, but recovered through naming newborn children after it.
Erdrich, Louise. Larose: A Novel. New York: HarperCollins, 2016. Internet resource.
Eliott C. McLaughlin. Cleveland: 12-year-old's police shooting death his own fault. Posted on 2nd March 2015. Retrieved from, http://edition.cnn.com/2015/03/01/us/cleveland-responds-lawsuit-police-shooting-tamir-rice/
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