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Written by Anna Erickson
Monetary Cost vs. the Value of Life
Throughout the novel, Doctor Paul Farmer devotes his life to helping the ill and needy. Although, he constantly finds himself struggling with the issue of cost efficiency when it comes to saving someone's life. For instance, every day Farmer chooses a select few to work on and treat... but by doing so, he is neglecting hundreds of others from his medical attention. This issue is examined in the most detail when John is flown to Boston in order to receive care for his rare facial cancer. The flight alone cost 2000 dollars, and even after the most extensive and advanced treatment, John inevitably passed away. Many of Farmer's colleagues criticized this decision and used it as proof concerning his 'wastefulness' and 'inefficiency' when it comes to money. Although Farmer disagrees, stating that every life is worth saving, regardless of the monetary expenses.
The First World
Farmer's strong views on America's foreign policies opens up a whole new world to a complicated history of both Haiti and the United States. He describes the U.S. as a powerful, yet highly imperialistic nation that has continually dictated and taken advantage of many developing and less powerful states and nations, many times reeking havoc in Third World countries like Haiti and Peru, where he's spent much of his life. He mentions that although Haiti became an independent republic in the 1790's, it is indicative of a lengthy, arbitrary relationship with the U.S. that has kept Haiti impoverished and chaotic. Ultimately, Farmer educates people in the First World, making it more difficult for them to blame the victims in the Third World.
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