What is the role of compassion, faith, and hope in medicine in Cutting for Stone?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The main character of Cutting for Stone , Marion Stone, is a doctor. From his earliest memory, medicine has been both his vocation and the grounding force to his life. However, medicine is not just black and white, cut and dry, or a science to Marion. Instead, medicine to Marion...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

The main character of Cutting for Stone, Marion Stone, is a doctor. From his earliest memory, medicine has been both his vocation and the grounding force to his life. However, medicine is not just black and white, cut and dry, or a science to Marion. Instead, medicine to Marion means the ability to get in touch with the humanity of all people. It represents the ability to heal and recover and the hope that conditions can improve.

Marion is no stranger to struggle or heartache. He and his twin brother, Shiva, were abandoned by their father at birth, and Shiva slept with the girl, Genet, that Marion loved as a young man. However, in medicine Marion finds a place to heal others and heal himself.

As a surgeon, he must have faith in himself to accurately execute operations. Faith and hope are exemplified in the scene in the Bronx in New York City where he performs a complicated surgery on a patient. When he touches the internal organs of the patient in his hands, he has a feeling of deep, spiritual connection to the patient, and his faith tells him to trust his own skill and instinct.

Compassion is tied into this experience of being a doctor, as Marion is motivated by trying to help others. He sees death and frailty throughout his career as a doctor, but he does not judge this sadness of life or others—not even Genet for breaking his heart. Marion forgives those who wronged or hurt him, such as Shiva, Genet, and his father. Thus, he can be considered quite compassionate.

At the ending of the novel, Marion's father performs a surgery on Marion to save his life that results in implanting Shiva's liver in him, although Shiva dies. The medical miracle of the life-saving organ from his brother within him represents the compassion his father and Shiva had for Marion to lead a peaceful life. This significant ending makes a powerful statement that even the hardest situations in life—physical or psychological—can be healed.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team