Professors Rivkin-Fish & Thrailkill
January 26, 2020
Reading Response 1
I chose to examine a paragraph from one of the stories from “A Fortunate Man.” This part of the story is striking to me because it reflects on the nature of stories. A man tells the doctor how the injured man is “suffering something terrible,” (Berger and Mohr 17). This man’s account is acknowledged by the third-person narrator to be a story; “The man would tell the story many times,” (Berger and Mohr 17). My first reaction to this was the question, what makes a story? This seems to be a significant question to consider, especially for our class. However, we get another piece of information about the nature of stories. The text says, “But it was not yet a story. The advent of the doctor brought the conclusion much nearer, but the accident was not yet over: the wounded man was still screaming…” (Berger and Mohr 18). There are many interesting things to unpack from these sentences. First, we learn that a story must have some sort of end or conclusion. We also learn that the injured man’s expression of pain is an indicator that the accident has not stopped, and therefore no conclusion has been reached. My interpretation of these points is that a person’s active suffering cannot be classified as a story, because it has not yet reached a conclusion. Another important aspect is the diction, specifically “advent” to describe the doctor’s arrival – the word means, according to Google dictionary, “the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event.” He is not just present in the scene, but is an important force in moving toward the conclusion of this story. Based on these interpretations, I see this scene as a “modern” or “expert” view of suffering, where the medical professional is the bringer of healing and stories of suffering.
Berger, John, and Jean Mohr. A Fortunate Man. Granata Books, 1989.