Showing 11 - 20 of 56 annotations contributed by Chen, Irene

Toenails

Selzer, Richard

Last Updated: Dec-07-2006
Annotated by:
Chen, Irene
Aull, Felice

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

This amusingly told narrative by a surgeon/author begins by describing how "wrong-headed [it is] to think of total submersion in the study and practice of medicine." He sets aside time to read at his neighborhood library, where he befriends six elderly, indigent "regulars." In spite of himself, the physician will out. His powers of medical observation and empathetic character lead him to perform a most menial task: cutting the overgrown toenails of these severely arthritic people in order to alleviate their pain.

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Annotated by:
Chen, Irene
Aull, Felice

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

A night on the town with two friends turns into "an attack of nerves" for Vasilyev, a law student. The three students spend the night drinking and visiting houses of prostitution; Vasilyev is horrified and repulsed by the women, who he thinks are "more like animals than human beings." The social problem of prostitution becomes an obsession; he is so fixated on finding a solution that he is in moral agony. His friends, among whom is a medical student, are concerned only with his health; they take him to a psychiatrist who "cures" Vasilyev with bromide and morphine.

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Annotated by:
Chen, Irene
Aull, Felice

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Sonnet

Summary:

The unrequited love of the narrator is compared to a devastating fever. Reason, "the physician," is ignored and cannot abate the disease. Without reason, madness (fever) reigns; and the poet renounces his beloved as "black as hell, as dark as night."

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Annotated by:
Aull, Felice
Chen, Irene

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

This poem captures the last thoughts and sensations of a person on her death bed. Surrounded by mourners who are bracing themselves for her death, the narrator’s focus as she dies is on the most mundane of living creatures: a buzzing fly. The final ebb of consciousness is depicted as a loss of light and sight: "And then the Windows failed--and then / I could not see to see--."

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Annotated by:
Chen, Irene
Aull, Felice

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

The narrator describes the disorientation felt as she attempted unsuccessfully to organize her thoughts. The "sequence [of thoughts] ravelled out of reach / Like balls upon a floor."

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Just lost when I was saved

Dickinson, Emily

Last Updated: Aug-29-2006
Annotated by:
Aull, Felice
Chen, Irene

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

The narrator, who has narrowly escaped death, feels as if there were "odd secrets . . . to tell" to the world of the living. She speculates about her next (and last) encounter with death, anticipating it with curiosity, and resigning herself to the "slow tramp [of] the centuries."

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Hippocrene

Fishbein, Julie Deane

Last Updated: Aug-24-2006
Annotated by:
Chen, Irene
Aull, Felice

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

An empathetic physician feels as if there were "no boundary" between him and his patient, until he "intrude[s]" by drawing blood. As the patient’s "sufferance rises" during the painful procedure, the physician feels that he is breaking the Hippocratic Oath by adding to the patient’s suffering.

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Fat

Carver, Raymond

Last Updated: Aug-21-2006
Annotated by:
Aull, Felice
Chen, Irene

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction — Secondary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

A waitress is assigned a particularly obese customer. She is mesmerized by him: by his physical appearance, what he orders, how he eats, and especially by his gracious manner toward her. The consideration he shows contrasts greatly with how she is treated by her demanding, insensitive boyfriend. The encounter is of major significance to the waitress: the story is framed by the first person narrative of the story within a story, and the final comment, "My life is going to change. I feel it."

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In the Hospital

Goedicke, Patricia

Last Updated: May-17-2006
Annotated by:
Chen, Irene
Aull, Felice

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

A woman with breast cancer describes dealing with doctors and medical procedures, from facing "embarrassing questions" to the finality of the mastectomy itself. She copes passively with the procedures by escaping into a fantasy world; but when it is time for the doctors to remove her breast, she assumes an active role and "[gives] it to them."

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Lady Lazarus

Plath, Sylvia

Last Updated: May-17-2006
Annotated by:
Aull, Felice
Chen, Irene

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

A 30 year-old woman describes with chilling power her three suicide attempts. She compares herself to a cat with nine lives and to a concentration camp victim; yet "dying / is an art . . . / I do it exceptionally well." The doctors/men that save her are the enemy, and she warns them to "beware."

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