Samuel Shem Writing Styles in The House of God

Samuel Shem
This Study Guide consists of approximately 36 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The House of God.
This section contains 500 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)

Point of View

The novel is written in the first person by Roy, one of the new interns at the House of God. There are areas of description and of Roy's thoughts as he goes through this internship year. Oddly, he talks very little about his feelings, and much of the exposition is just his observations. Everything the reader knows about comes directly through Roy's experiences of them. Roy is cynical, and this is reflected in his point of view about how things happen in the House of God. All the dialogue comes directly through that which Roy himself experiences. The book is fairly straightforward with regard to point of view.


Ninety-five percent of the book is set on the ward, in the MICU or in the EW of the House of God, a hospital in a big city. The book doesn't say which city the hospital is in. A small portion of it is set in his apartment with Berry. There is a call room where some things happen, and there is a cafeteria and some conference rooms. The author doesn't paint a very unique picture of the hospital, and one is left to assume that it is an ordinary hospital like any other hospital. There is practically no description of anyplace in the hospital except after Pott's died, there is description of the bloodstain that perpetuated in that place in the parking lot and a little bit of the MICU and the EW. Nothing stands out. The descriptor "The House of God" implies it is a prestigious hospital and as the author graduated from Harvard Medical School, it is likely the hospital was affiliated with that institution.

Language and Meaning

This novel takes you deeply into the world of medicine and includes a lot of medical terminology and dark medical humor. The language is very casual, and the author uses a lot of abbreviations for things. The dialogue is realistic and, at times, poignant. Roy, for all his cynicism, does feel deeply about what he's going through and says some highly symbolic things about death and dying during this book. This is a book written especially for medical students or residents who can understand what's happening on the deepest level.


There are three books in this novel, and the entire work is divided over 27 chapters. Many chapters outline what happens in a single day in the House of God. The book is spread out over a year of an internship, although more of the book covers the first few days of the internship when things are most hectic and less and less time is taken up as the year goes on. The book is also structured with one plot line, and the plot can be defined by the various rotations Roy goes through. Roy himself goes through stages in the book, where he is afraid at first, then gains competence and a respect for death and finally is competent and wiser than he was before.

This section contains 500 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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