A Constellation of Vital Phenomena Summary & Study Guide

Anthony Marra
This Study Guide consists of approximately 53 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of A Constellation of Vital Phenomena.
This section contains 615 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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A Constellation of Vital Phenomena Summary & Study Guide Description

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra.

The story opens with a man named Akhmed who watches helplessly while his friend and neighbor, Dokka, is arrested and hauled away in the middle of the night. Akhmed sees that Dokka's daughter, Havaa, is not taken and as soon as the military truck leave, Akhmed goes looking for Havaa in the nearby woods. He finds her and takes her home. The next day, Akhmed heads for the nearby city where he has heard of a woman doctor who runs a hospital. He hopes this woman will take care of Havaa.

Sonja is the only doctor remaining at Hospital No. 6. She has one nurse and a security guard to help her, and she has no interest in helping Havaa. She agrees that Havaa can remain at the hospital on the condition that Akhmed works at the hospital. He's a doctor but graduated at the bottom of his class and they both see his shortcomings very quickly. Akhmed agrees, but knows he has to be very careful about going to the hospital each day.

At home, Akhmed cares for his bed-ridden wife and tries to hide his activities from a neighbor, Ramzan, who works as an informant for the military. Ramzan is an informant only because he was tortured and castrated. He hates his role but feels powerless to change it. His father, Khassan, is ashamed and feels he should kill his son, but can't bring himself to do so. Khassan never speaks to Ramzan except when his son is heavily drugged and won't remember their conversations. He does help Akhmed hide his daily trip to the hospital for the short time that commute continues.

Ramzan is the reason for Dokka's arrest and the reason the military is looking for Havaa. Ramzan is told that a gun that had once been in his possession was used to kill a military officer. Ramzan tells his handler that the gun had last been in Dokka's possession and tells them how to find Dokka and Havaa. Though Havaa is just a child, it's clear that she'll be punished for her role in the officer's death.

Dokka had possession of the gun for awhile but had given it away. Dokka's entire world is caring for Havaa but he has a huge handicap. He is Ramzan when Ramzan is arrested for the second time, and their captors cut off all of Dokka's fingers. Dokka's house is known as a haven for refugees traveling toward the camps. When a young woman named Natasha arrives at his home one day, Dokka immediately recognizes her as the midwife who delivered Havaa at Hospital No. 6. Dokka urges Natasha to remain with him rather than traveling alone, but Natasha insists that she's going on toward the refugee camps in the hope of eventually making her way to London. Dokka gives Natasha the gun, saying he can't fire it and doesn't want Havaa to have that responsibility.

Natasha continues her journey but is stopped at a military check point. It becomes clear that an officer is going to rape her. Natasha was held captive years earlier and decides she won't be a helpless victim yet again. She kills the officer but his soldiers kill her moments later.

Natasha's older sister is Sonja and Sonja realizes that Natasha has a connection to Havaa when she finds a nutcracker among Havaa's possessions. Sonja had given the nutcracker to Natasha who had given it to Havaa. Sonja accepts full responsibility for Havaa from that moment and helps her grow into a successful, well-educated young woman. Havaa lives to be more than 100 years old and eventually dies at Hospital No. 6, the same hospital where she was born.

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This section contains 615 words
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