Showing 161 - 170 of 228 annotations tagged with the keyword "Humor and Illness/Disability"

The Imaginary Invalid

Molière

Last Updated: Oct-21-2003
Annotated by:
Duffin, Jacalyn

Primary Category: Literature / Plays

Genre: Play

Summary:

Argan, a fearful but miserly hypochondriac, divides his time between summoning the doctor to care for his ills and trying not to settle the resultant bills. He resolves to marry his daughter, Angélique, to a medical student, hoping to acquire unlimited access to gratis consultation. The chosen fiancé is an unattractive dolt, who would never interest Angélique, even if she were not already in love with clever, handsome Cléante, who poses as her music instructor.

Argan's wife, however, plans to send Angélique to a convent, removing her from the line inheritance. At the urging of the sensible servant Toinette, he feigns death to test his wife's affection only to discover her contempt. Again with the help of Toinette, the young lovers convince Argan to liberate himself from the twin tyrannies of his ailing body and his grasping physicians by becoming his own doctor. The play closes with the physicians' lively examination of Argan and his entry into the profession, full of musical pomp and pidgin Latin.

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Skin Tight

Hiaasen, Carl

Last Updated: Oct-21-2003
Annotated by:
Kohn, Martin

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

The strange cast of characters in this satirical detective thriller includes most prominently, Dr. Rudy Graveline, a hack plastic surgeon trying to cover up the "accidental" death of a patient during a rhinoplasty procedure four years prior to the start of action. "One of the wondrous things about Florida, Rudy Graveline thought as he chewed on a jumbo shrimp, was the climate of unabashed corruption: There was absolutely no trouble from which money could not extricate you . . . Since the medical board was made up mostly of other doctors, Rudy Graveline had fully expected exoneration-- physicians stick together like shit on a shoe." (p.95)

Doctors, however, are not the only profession slammed by the author. Also receiving their comeuppance are corrupt lawyers, politicians, police officers, and judges. Searing satire is also directed at "reality journalists" through the character Reynaldo Flemm (i.e. Geraldo Rivera). Not surprisingly the "good guys" win and the "bad guys," including Dr. Graveline, lose. But the hideous way in which Dr. Graveline meets his demise is too gruesome to reveal here.

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Summary:

The sculptor Ken Harrison (Richard Dreyfuss) is badly injured in a car accident and finds himself in the middle of life permanently paralyzed below the neck and dependent on others for his care and survival. Ken is a strong-minded, passionate man totally dedicated to his art, and he decides he does not want to go on with the compromised, highly dependent life that his doctors, his girlfriend Pat (Janet Eilber), and others urge on him. He breaks up with Pat and fights to be released from the hospital, to gain control of his life in order to stop the care that keeps him alive and unhappy.

His antagonist is the hospital's medical director Dr. Emerson (John Cassavetes), who believes in preserving life no matter what, and so tries to get Ken committed as clinically depressed. Ken's attending physician, Dr. Scott (Christine Lahti), begins with the establishment but gradually moves toward Ken's position.

The film ends with the judge at a legal hearing deciding that Ken is not clinically depressed and that he thus has the right to refuse treatment and be discharged. In the last scene, Ken lies in a hospital bed framed by his own sculptural realization of the forearm and hand of God from Michelangelo's Creation of Man.

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Blue Shoe

Lamott, Anne

Last Updated: Jun-02-2003
Annotated by:
McEntyre, Marilyn

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

Mattie, recently divorced from Nick, the father of her two children, is coping with the aftermath of divorce, functioning as a single parent, feeling ambivalence toward Nick who still shows up and sometimes stays the night, and becoming aware of her own attraction to other men. Her mother, an aging social activist, lives nearby with her lover and companion who copes with the mother’s insistent personality and mood swings better than Mattie. Her brother, Al, also lives nearby and fills in some of the father functions for Mattie’s children.

In the background is the story of Mattie’s father, now dead, much loved by both Mattie and Al, who, as it turns out, fathered a child now living in the community by a young girl about Mattie’s age. The mother of the child lives in the squalor of near homelessness at the edge of town. This disclosure, Mattie’s blossoming friendship and eventual romance with the man who comes to repair her house, and Mattie’s mother’s descent into dementia are the three main threads of plot in this story of pain, forgiveness, and healing in family life.

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Sick

Silverstein, Shel (Sheldon Allan)

Last Updated: Jun-02-2003
Annotated by:
Shafer, Audrey

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Children's Literature

Summary:

In this verse for children, Silverstein plays with the idea of malingering: the protagonist, "little Peggy Ann McKay" invokes all kinds of alarming ailments from the common to the bizarre ("My hip hurts when I move my chin") in order to stay home from school. The poem swings with a couplet rhyme scheme until the dramatic turn, when little Peggy discovers it's Saturday. She is miraculously freed of all symptoms and one can imagine her puckishly skipping out the door to play.

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The Swedish Match

Chekhov, Anton

Last Updated: May-27-2003
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

The police receive a report that Mark Ivanovitch Klyauzov has been murdered. Indeed. he has not left his bedroom in a week. When the inspector and his assistant arrive, they soon find "evidence" that Klyauzov. a man who led a life of drunken debauchery, was strangled in his room, carried out the window, and later stabbed in the garden to finish him off.

Dyukovsky, the brash young assistant inspector. eagerly interprets every clue. He concludes that three perpetrators were involved in the murder. Two held down the drunken Klauzov, while the third person strangled him. They quickly arrest the valet and the gardener. But who is the third culprit? Could it be Klyauzov's sister, who disagreed with him over religion?

Dyukovsky identifies the central clue, an unusual Swedish match dropped at the scene of the crime. By brilliant detective work, he discovers that a pack of Swedish matches was purchased by the police superintendent's young wife. The inspectors confront he--she quickly caves in. However, all is not as it seems, as the story rushes (or perhaps. lurches) to its surprise ending.

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A Work of Art

Chekhov, Anton

Last Updated: May-27-2003
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

In payment for the doctor's saving his life, a young man gives Dr. Koshelkov an antique bronze candelabra. The candelabra features "two female figures in the costume of Eve and in attitudes for the description of which I have neither the courage nor the fitting temperament." While the doctor finds the piece obscene, the young man chides him for not appreciating fine art. Finally, the doctor accepts the candelabra, but decides to give it to Uhov the lawyer, to whom he is indebted.

Uhov, in turn, judges the naked figures to be too raunchy: "I should be ashamed for my servants to see it." Yet, he is pressured to accept the gift. The same night he foists off the candelabra to Shashkin, the comic actor, who subsequently sells it. Two days later, the original young patient rushes into Dr. Koshelkov's office with the original candelabra, proclaiming that his mother had just discovered it in a shop. "Happily for you we have succeeded in picking up the pair to your candelabra!"

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Annotated by:
Woodcock, John

Primary Category: Performing Arts / Film, TV, Video

Genre: Film

Summary:

May-Alice Culhane (Mary McDonnell) is a daytime soap opera star who is struck by a taxi in New York and wakes up in a hospital paralyzed from the waist down. Upset and bitter, and unable to continue acting, which she says is the only thing she was ever good at, she returns to her Louisiana bayou family home to begin the rest of her life in isolation.

An employment agency sends out a string of helpers. Some are better than others, but all are quickly defeated by May-Alice’s deep bitterness and negativity and her incipient alcoholism. Then comes Chantelle (Alfre Woodard), who needs the job so badly, as part of digging herself out from a cocaine addiction, that her determination makes her a match for May-Alice.

It is decidedly bumpy going, but Chantelle persists and May-Alice finally strops drinking and begins to make some progress in physical therapy. She takes up black-and-white photography, developing her own prints from her wheelchair, and she gratefully receives the gentlemanly attentions of her high school idol Rennie, played by David Strathairn. (The film takes its title from a practice that locals believe can make love-wishes come true.)

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Oysters

Chekhov, Anton

Last Updated: May-27-2003
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

This story is in the voice of a young boy whose father is unemployed and reduced to begging. Father and son stand on the street outside a restaurant, which sports a placard that says, "Oysters." While the father screws up his courage to ask some passersby for money, the son asks him, "Papa, what does 'oysters' mean?" He answers vaguely, "It is an animal that lives in the sea." But the son asks progressively more specific questions about oysters, ultimately envisioning the creature as a frog with large jaws that lives between two shells.

When two men walk by, the father begs, "Help us, gentlemen!" Simultaneously, the boy cries out "Oysters!" The gentlemen think this is hilarious. They promptly take the man and his son into the restaurant and buy the boy some oysters to eat. Later that night, the boy develops heartburn, while his father regrets that he was afraid to ask the men, who squandered 10 rubles on buying the oysters, for some money.

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Annotated by:
McEntyre, Marilyn

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

The narrator's father is in the hospital awaiting surgery that might be his last. She and her sister have been coming to the hospital regularly during his prolonged stay, and have become familiar with the cast of characters there, including an old man in a state of dementia who wanders the halls asking directions. The narrator reflects on her family, what can be spoken of and what can't, the different reactions they have to hospital regulations, crisis, impending loss.

She longs to tell her father she loves him, but is constrained by family reserve. As the family gathers at his bed before the surgery, she comes to realize some things will never be fully expressed, but must remain implicit. The unspoken is part of the loss she recognizes as she faces her father's death.

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