Friday, January 1, 2010

"Goodnight you princes of Maine, You kings of New England." Homer Wells, "The Cider House Rules"

Dr. Wilbur Leach became a physician partly because of the need to give something back to his community, so when he observed two women die from botched, illegal abortions, he took a stand. He decided that he wanted to save unfortunate women like this and that he would perform medically sound abortions without charge and to educate the women to let them know the dangers of having a person who is not trained provide this service.

Later, as medical officer of St. Cloud's Orphanage in Maine, he became a legend. Women sought him out to deliver the babies they couldn't keep and then leave them in the orphanage; other women came for the free, no questions asked abortion.

Homer Wells is born there. Homer was loved by the nursing staff and by Dr. Leach. He went through a number of adoption attempts which fell through, always returning to what he considered his true home, the orphanage. He remained at that location and later became Dr. Larch's assistant.

This detailed story, tells of life in Maine in the early and mid part of the twentieth century. It tells of the mills closing, the pollution in the water and the way of life of so many of the ignorant, poor people who dwelled there.

One of John Irving's themes is that a person should be grateful for what they have and do something good to others. However, there were many painful moments, either with people adopting for the wrong reasons or the callous manner in which Wilbur performed the abortions, never seeming to attempt to persuade the young women to continue the life within them and later placing the child into adoption. Wilbur was an ether addict, in part to the gonorrhea he contracted when his father took him to a prostitute as a right of passage into adulthood. Not much is discussed of the addiction and the effect that had on the children.

The story is a classic. Homer Wells is one of the most empathetic characters in literature. He is someone the reader will remember fondly, long after the book is finished.

No comments:

Currently Reading

Currently Reading
Broken Promise