John Berger’s chaos narrative “A Fortunate Man: The Story of a Country Doctor” begins with a physician driving to a person trapped under a fallen tree. The Doctor arrives at the field and approaches the injured man along with three others. The dialogue between the Doctor and the three people was very rich in significance to the meaning of the story. The Doctor tells the men to lift and they worry that “we could injure him worse than ever” (Berger 19). This harsh reality of Medicine is an internal struggle the physician encounters because professional treatment can cause further injuries to the patient (i.e. surgery risks). This would have been especially true in the 1960s since medical techniques and treatments were not much advanced. The author continues to exclaim, “He could see the crushed leg… like a dog killed on the road” (19). This simile emphasizes the gruesome injuries that the Doctor witnessed daily and the traumas it created for him. This perpetuates the theme that Medicine can be horrifying and taxing on the healers themselves. The dialogue continues to assert that the Doctor “seemed the accomplice of disaster” (19) as if the Doctor was actively attempting to harm the patient. The theme of Medicine being merciless and unpitying is presented, as the Doctor probably struggled with vivid memories of watching people die and feeling responsible for their death. In Medicine, not every patient will survive their injury nor will they live to tell their story of illness. The dialogue ends with a dark mood, yet contrasted with a glimmer of hope, as the Doctor believes the man “won’t lose his leg” (19). This is referencing the hopefulness that the Doctor must maintain to continue helping patients, while also dealing with the hardships caused by previous patient death.
Berger, John, and Jea Mohr. A Fortunate Man: the Story of a Country Doctor. Vintage Books, 1997.