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What is a summary of Chapter 2 of Contagion by Robin Cook?

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Jessica Gardner | High School Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted August 26, 2013 at 10:26 PM via web

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What is a summary of Chapter 2 of Contagion by Robin Cook?

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K.P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted August 28, 2013 at 1:45 PM (Answer #1)

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Chapter 2 introduces one of Cook's routine changes in point of view (a stylistic pattern he shares with John le Carre) by going to Colleen and Terese at Willow and Heath advertising agency.

Colleen and Terese, Colleen's boss, are in charge of the advertising campaign for National Health hospital (the National), the local challenger to Manhattan General (the General), which is an AmeriCare corporation-owned hospital. National Health has been losing clients to the General and hired Willow and Heath to reverse the loss trend.

The first TV advertisement put together by Colleen and Terese, who is the character through whom the narrator focuses (i.e., focalizes) this chapter, was guaranteed to raise the National's market share of customers. As Terese learns to her dismay, the TV commercial was unsuccessful and she is given one week by the National spokespersons to get a new--and this time successful--campaign publicly aired.

After the meeting, Terese presents the bad news to Colleen. Colleen, under Terese's orders, pulls her team together to make a presentation of the ideas they have at the moment. This set-back could have devastating effects on Terese's fast-track plan for business promotion and she is "dazed" and shocked by the challenge set before her.

    "... I mean, it's my best sixty-second spot. You told me yourself. ... Well, I want to see what you have [now]," Terese said. "I don't care how sketchy or preliminary. ... I want to see it today."

As a side note, Teresa and Colleen seem to have a mixed work relationship. At times, Terese, the boss, looks to Colleen for support and confirmation, while at other times, Colleen, the "hire," offers reprimands to Terese, her boss. This suggests that Cook didn't have the familiarity with advertising that was needed for authenticity between Terese and Colleen.

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