Death and Dying
Second Midterm Exam—fall, 2022
Answer three of the following as thoroughly and creatively as possible. Write like a boss! Show me what you know and what creativity you have!
1. Regarding the suicide of Old Man Brooks (in The Shawshank Redemption), how does his suicide differ from other suicides shown and discussed in class? What sociological explanations can be offered that shows Brooks’ suicide as sad, but, at the same time, relatable? Discuss the last acts of Brooks prior to his suicide and what you regard as the key symbols associated with his suicide.
2. Regarding Kayla in Bombshell and Michael in The Godfather , what do you see as the key similarities and differences associated with their symbolic deaths—and in particular, the symbolic deaths of the selves they wanted to be? What obstacles prevented them from becoming their ideal selves? How do these obstacles differ, in particular? How do their different ways of responding to the obstacles signal a rebirth—for good and for bad?
3. In regard to Lane in Mad Men and Hannah in Thirteen Reasons Why , how do each of their suicides compare and contrast? How are their suicides essentially different, but also similar? Discuss why it could be possible that no one would suspect that each of the people would commit suicide. Finally, would you describe each of their suicides as “selfish?” Why or why not?.
4. In When Breath Becomes Air , Kalanithi wrote (p. 85) that he feared he had become, “Tolstoy’s stereotype of a doctor, preoccupied with empty formalism focused on rote treatment of disease,” Also, Kalanithi (in When Breath Becomes Air ) wrote that, “In anatomy lab we objectified the dead, literally reducing them to organs…it was hard to recognize this pale of tissue as (anything but) organs” (p. 49). With these two quotes in mind, provide an analysis of how imminent death had an impact on Kalanithi.
5. Drawing from our overall discussion of suicide, what makes suicide more of a “rational choice” that we would immediately imagine it to be? In effect, how does a suicide, in retrospect, reveal the acts of a “sane” person rather than a person who has “gone insane?” What are some external explanations (or explanations “outside of the head of a suicidal person”) that relate to how social forces contribute to suicide