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Death, and its relationship to poverty and survival, is an important topic in the novel. The people of Bottom scramble to survive, the significance of this is seen in National Suicide Day, which Shadrack invents to contain the fear of death. The narrator explains that the people of Bottom “did not believe doctors could heal…They did not believe death was accidental…death was deliberate.” Shadrack thought people would not have to fear death the rest of the year if a special day was set aside just for it. The people of Bottom accept his plan, but of course nothing contains death. “National Suicide Day” is an attempt to compartmentalize the death and fear that pervades their lives, but of course it does not work at all.
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