Professors Thrailkill and Rivkin-Fish
26 January 2020
In “A Fortunate Man: The Story of a Country Doctor” John Berger and Jean Mohr explore how and when stories develop from traumatic events causing injury. The most striking sentence in this piece to me was: “The man would tell the story many times, and the first would be tonight in the village. But it was not yet a story. The advent of the doctor brought the conclusion much nearer, but the accident was not yet over” (Berger & Mohr 17-18). When do events in our lives transition from our present to a sequence of events from the past that we can narrate? Later in the passage, the doctor comments “’You know Sleepy Joe?…He was trapped under a tree for twelve hours before any help came”’ (Berger & Mohr 19). This event, which is now a story, was not always one. Likewise, though the story of the man with the crushed leg is not a story yet it will be in the future. In class, we discussed how illness interrupts our stories. However, Berger and Mohr’s story seems to argue the opposite. Illness and injury become a part of our personal life stories, and become stories for other people to tell. It is true that the man’s leg injury will likely interrupt his life, his career, and his functionality. However, it is not the end of a story but the beginning of a new one, for him and for the people around him who witnessed this event take place. This is important because even traumatic events contribute to our identities, not just positive ones.
Berger, John and Jean Mohr. A Fortunate Man: The Story of a Country Doctor. Vintage International, 1967. pp. 17-23.