What is the culture in Cutting the Stone?

Cutting for Stone is a multi-cultural novel that is set primarily in Ethiopia and the United States. Marion identifies most strongly with the Ethiopian culture in which he was raised.

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Cutting for Stone is multi-cultural. The twin sons of nuns, Marion and Shiva, are raised in the Mission Hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopa. Later, Marion immigrates to the United States and tries to adjust to life in that culture.

Growing up in a hospital compound in Ethiopa, miscalled Missing rather...

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Cutting for Stone is multi-cultural. The twin sons of nuns, Marion and Shiva, are raised in the Mission Hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopa. Later, Marion immigrates to the United States and tries to adjust to life in that culture.

Growing up in a hospital compound in Ethiopa, miscalled Missing rather than Mission, Marion experiences the poverty and political instability of Ethiopian life. Medical supplies are often limited; scarcity is the norm. People are medically treated only as well as the resources of the strained facility can manage. Doctors and nurses, however, sometimes achieve heroic feats with few supplies to work with.

However, Missing is also a universe in miniature, a culture that grows from a multi-cultural melting pot filled with foreigners. Indians such as Ghosh and Hema interact with native Ethiopians as well as the British Dr. Stone and the clueless American benefactor Elihu Harris, who sends Bibles instead of sorely needed medical supplies. Class lines are crossed, too, such as when Marion gets involved with the maid's daughter, Genet. Hinduism mixes with Christianity, and despite the cruelties of this society in which almost everyone seems to bear a physical scar, be it a missing finger or smallpox pits, Marion remembers Missing in part as a blooming paradise, symbolizing the fertile culture in which he was raised:

Matron Hirst's roses overtook the walls, the crimson blooms framing every window and reaching to the roof.

Marion's cultural milieu changes markedly when he comes to the United States and works in the gray, dismal charity hospital in New York called Our Lady of Perpetual Succor. Here he and the other doctors interact with the poorest of the poor, often coming in off the streets with stab wounds. Here, Marion experiences cultural alienation. He is acculturated to Ethiopia and finds US society colorless in comparison. He is delighted when he finds an Ethiopian restaurant, the Queen of Sheba, and runs into an old Ethiopian friend, Tsige, as well as Genet.

The novel depicts a sprawling but interconnected world that crosses continents. The multicultural blend in Ethiopa's Missing creates a world all its own that helps form Marion and becomes the culture of origin he longs for.

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