Mortality Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of approximately 22 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Mortality.
This section contains 631 words
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Mortality Summary & Study Guide Description

Mortality 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 Topics for Discussion on Mortality by Christopher Hitchens.

"Mortality" by Christopher Hitchens is the story of the writer and political analyst's life during the last nineteen months of his life after he was diagnosed with Stage 4 esophageal cancer. At the time, Christopher Hitchens was just launching an American book tour and was very excited and enthused about it. He woke early in his hotel room in New York City on the morning of the day that the tour was beginning, with a pain and agony that he could not understand or describe. His chest felt weighted down with concrete and he could hardly breathe. He barely made it across the room to call for help. Was he having a heart attack?

However, help, in the form of EMTs with their scary boots and helmets looking ready for battle, came quickly. The EMT team helped to bring a measure of comfort to Christopher as they immediately dispatched him to the hospital. The ER doctors were able to restore a normal status to his heart, lungs and blood pressure. However, they gave him the dire advise to see an oncologist. Amazingly, Christopher recovered enough to keep his commitment for an appearance on the Jon Stewart show and a showing with his friend Salman Rushdie that night without anyone suspecting that something very serious was wrong with him.

On the morning that he went in for a biopsy on the tumors that the doctors discovered in the collarbone area and in his lymph nodes, Christopher knew that his life would be forever changed. Cancer was taking away the life that he knew and loved. Unfortunately, Christopher was correct about his assessment of his future. His days became paradoxical. Part of them were dedicated to trying to live, to lengthen his life through therapy and chemicals, while the other part of his days were taken up with the legalities of dying - meetings with lawyers about finalizing his estate. He had to take care of both his life and his death because he didn't know which one he would wind up with in the near future.

One of the worst days for Christopher was the morning that he woke up and his voice sounded like a squealing child. His deep and distinctive voice was gone. His voice and his intellect had earned him generous speaking fees and landed him on many television shows. He hoped that his voice would return to its former rich resonance but he feared that it would disappear altogether. He received his answer when one morning he went to hail a taxi and nothing came out.

Christopher had lost his speaking voice but he had not lost his writing voice. He had so many fans who enjoyed his writing and the intelligence and thought behind it. But there were many other debilitating effects of the disease and side effects of the treatment. Typing on his computer and feeling the painful tingling on his fingers as they hit the keys was a omen that he may even lose his writer's voice.

After all the pain, agony, worry, and humiliation of being a cancer patient, Christopher still could not prolong his life. Who knows if he extended his life a few weeks or months but they were weeks or months of misery. He recalled how men that he had admired had wanted to just die instead of trying to hang on to a life that had lost its quality and purpose. Christopher's wife, Carol, of course hoped that he could have prolonged his life and beaten the monster that destroyed their life together. But she very carefully maintains all his writings, notes and scribblings confident that Christopher's voice hasn't been silenced. In the end, he will have the last word like he so often did in life.

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This section contains 631 words
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