Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Death with Interuptions by José Saramago

"The Following Day, No one died" (1). New Years Day finds one country in complete confusion. No one has died since the stroke of midnight, signaling the new year. The very foundation of the church is shaky, people have to die so that they can recieve the blessings of heaven...but no one is dying. People are in the stage of not quite dead, but not living. They are permanently stuck dying. Those bleeding to death continue to bleed, but cannot die. No one knows why death has stopped and no one can find the way to make it begin again. Death has only stopped in this country, and insurance companies, grave diggers, and funeral parlors are losing money. The country is in turmoil which only seems to increase after the wish of an old grandfather brings one family to sadness and starts a revolution of sorts. He desires that he and his young dying grandchild be allowed to leave their misery behind and recieve death. The family fulfills the old man's wish by bringing him and his grandson over the country border. Bringing family members over the boarder of the country is the only way to bring death to these permanently dying individuals. The Government finds out about these secret quests and posts guards at the border to selectively allow only certain people to cross. One government official starts making deals with the maphia, with a ph "To distinguish us from the original mafia" (47) to find a way of making money out of these illegal crossings. A young philosopher has a discussion with a fish spirit at an aquarium and discovers that there are different types of death which is why only human life is spared from death. Why has Death stopped? And will it ever return to this lost country?


1. In the novel Death is personified to be a living being and a female, yet the grim reaper is always portrayed to be male. Why do you think the author has portrayed death as a female?

2. If you were in this country where no one dies and you had a family member or friend stuck in this permanent stage of the "living dead" what would you do? Would you bring them to the other country to simply be rid of them or would you care for them even though you knew nothing would change, they would not get better, but they would not get worse? What if it was their wish to die?

8 comments:

LeahS11-12 said...

I'd say that the answer to number two depends on the situation, but I'd personally never push a family member that is in that state over the border simply to "get rid" of them. I'd take care of them for as long as I could, but if they were suffering immensely and didn't want to live anymore, I'd take them to the other side for their own benefit.

Hayley D 11/12 said...

I completely agree with what Leah said regarding question 2. I would only take someone to the other country if that is what they truly wanted. Either way, I would feel guilty in that situation. If you choose to take them to the other country, you are partially responsible for their death. But if you continue to care for them, they are suffering and there is absolutely nothing that you can do about it. That is a huge and very stressful situation, but if that is what the suffering person wanted, I feel that I would help take them to the other country. I would only take them as a last resort, and up until that moment, I would do my best to care for them and try to distract them from their suffering as much as I could. Either way, I would feel extremely guilty.

Megan L.11-12 said...

So number 1, the authour may be trying to pursue a more gentle side of death rather than the scary masculine form we all know. A woman has that maternal girly touch, and if Death was a man, we wouldn't get the compassion maybe.

2. I wouldn't necessarily want to get rid of them but if nobody died, I would have to leave the country. I am of the opinion that I would rather die early than live forever. If nothing changed I don't know how I could function knowing that I had forever to get things done and forever to live my life. I want that motivation because I know I'm going to die. Without it, there's nothing.

Leah A 5-6 said...

I agree with Megan for the first question. When one thinks of death they tend to think of scary, dark, cold and masculine. The author may have been trying to show a different side of death not as the stereotype we have.

For question 2, I wouldn't forcefully take them over to the other side just to get rid of them. I would care and help them as long as I could. However if they wanted to and it was their wish to go to the other side, I would respect their wishes, just because they were in such a painful situation. It is a hard choice to make, so I agree only if it the last resort.

Hannah L 13-14 said...

I definitley agree with you guys when you say that you wouldn't forcably take someone over the border just to be rid of them. In the book there were people that just wanted them out of their lives so they took them just so that the hassle of taking care of them would be over. What if the family member was one that you absolutely could not stand? Do you think you would be more inclined to do it then?

Megan, I like what you said about the author wanting to "pursue a more gentle side of death." You have a good point and it's an interesting thought.

Hannah L 13-14 said...

Oh and about the first question Hayley, would you still feel guilty even if you really didn't like the person..maybe even hated them? I mean I can understand that you would feel guilty, I would feel guilty too but I think I would feel less guilty if i saw that it was their dying wish or if I really didn't care for the person. I think everyone can say that they have at least one family member that they don't really like too much so I can see that a person wouldn't miss them much. I'm not saying I'm a heartless person because I'm sure it would affect me either way, but I think I would be less affected by it then.

Megan L.11-12 said...

I think there are plenty better ways to get a family member out of your life than sending them to die. I mean, just move away? Even if there was someone I hated, I wouldn't send them to die. I figure if someone wanted to die they would walk over willingly. I mean I'm assuming here that the relatives are terminally ill or old or something so if they feel it was there time to die then I'd just let them walk over I wouldn't stop them but I wouldn't make somebody go if they didn't want to die...that's murder.

Courtney R 5-6 said...

I agree with Megan about the more gentle side of death, though this book doesn't seem "gentle" at all to me, but of course, I haven't read it. As for the second question, I wouldn't take them across a border to "rid of them," but rather to rid them of their misery. I see it as a terminal illness kind of thing. Sometimes a person just has to make the decision to let someone go because keeping he or she living while knowing there is no hope is cruel. If it was their wish to die, I would have to grant them that. It doesn't seem right or like anything I'd want to do, but it would be the right thing to do.