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Death, Essay Example

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Essay

Richard Seltzer in his essay The Discus Thrower (Seltzer) and Sharon Olds in her poem The Race (Olds) describe death through their personal observations but reach the same conclusions. The final conclusion of both authors is that one may be loneliest in life at the doorsteps of death but even then there are some who do care about us in our final moments. Through the attitude of nurses towards the dying man, Mr. Seltzer hints at the weakening social fabrics of our society where people have become colder towards strangers. They are unable to feel other’s pains and care about their own interests only. The nurses felt relieved at the death of the old man because they were fed up with his breakfast ritual of throwing egg at the wall. But no one tried to imagine the pain the man had been going through and the sadness life might have given him that drove him to this behavior except maybe Mr. Seltzer. Everyone was so focused at the troubles of dealing with the old man that they failed to recognize his strong spirit. Mr. Seltzer here emphasizes that we as a society are overly focused on the negatives that we fail to see the strengths in individuals. The society seems to discard dying people even before their final breathe takes place as if they are secretly wishing for the person to not survive. This maybe Mr. Seltzer’s way of emphasizing the fact the weak people have few friends in the society which is why they so often lose the joy to live. The dying man had no visitors even though he might have had enjoyed healthy relationships in his prime days. The society really does give us importance for as long as we have something and then discards us so conveniently.

Sharon Olds poem describes her emotionally charged airport experience in order to catch a flight so that she could see her dying father. Ms. Olds story gives us hope that the social fabrics might have become weaker in the society but there are still some good people around. Ms. Olds flight got cancelled and she knew that the doctors expected her father not to survive the night. But the various employees at the airport tried to guide her as best as they could and understood her sense of urgency. Ms. Olds herself is an example that some people care enough about their relationships that they would give anything to be by the sides of their dying loved ones. Ms. Olds describes how she pushed her legs and heart to the limits and how she could not control her emotions when she finally caught the flight. Her happiness over the possibility of seeing her father was just like how one feels upon entering the heaven. In contrast with the old man in Mr. Seltzer’s story who had no relatives at his bedside, Ms. Olds treasured every single breathe of her father. These two stories remind us that human relationships are quite varied and our final times can be as unpredictable as our lives.

References

Olds, Sharon. “The Race.” The Father. Knopf, 1992.

Seltzer, Richard. “The Discus Thrower.” Vital Lines: Contemporary Fiction About Medicine. NY: Ballantine, 1991.

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