What are the most important or valuable ideas or arguments in this book? Where does Kidder's text best convey these ideas and why? Why do those ideas matter so much to Farmer and to you (should they matter to the rest of us as well)? Make your case.
The biggest idea is the devotion to helping others in need. Dr. Farmer, the hero in this story, commits himself to treating infectious disease in impoverished communities, particularly in Haiti. This one man's belief that he could make a difference in the lives of others by applying his knowledge to their plight make him an admirable individual. Dr. Farmer also tied his humanitarian work into his religious ideals, believing that it was the imperative of the church to alleviate human suffering.
Kidder also brings up the obstacles to Dr. Farmer's aims, namely the political structures that hinder the ability to deliver medical services and provisions to needy populations. The Duvalier dictatorship was responsible for the corruption, poor infrastructure, and isolationism that made it difficult for individuals like Dr. Farmer to help the ill.
These two main ideas are applicable not only to the particular individuals and circumstances described in this book. Devoting oneself to the service of others and promoting political systems that work for the welfare of the population are ideas that could well apply to any individual or society.