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Why did the grandfather become a doctor?

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message 1: by Vasha7 (last edited Jun 06, 2011 03:39AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Vasha7 It's a bit surprising that the grandfather still wanted to become a doctor after what the apothecary did to the tiger's wife. The worst possible violation of the Hippocratic Oath (figuratively speaking; the apothecary never took the oath of course). Is it possible that already, at that age, the grandfather understood the ethics involved and knew he could do better?

It's so ironic that the apothecary tried to gain the trust of the tiger's wife by revealing his most closely guarded secret, his ethnic identity. Could you say that he wasn't really a doctor, that that was as fake as all his other fake identities? But I think he really did act as a doctor, until his terrible betrayal -- which he did in order to maintain his place in the village, which he had gained by hiding his past.

I guess that's part of the lesson that hiding secrets is moral poison. Certainly hiding that he was gay ruined Luka. (I have a hard time finding any sympathy for Luka even knowing how he came to be as violent as he was).

Presumably that's why the apothecary was so calm about his death; he must have been contemplating the irony of it, the "what goes around comes around". Look what he did in order to pass himself off as belonging in Galina; and then to be murdered by neighbors with an ethnic hatred for the people of Galina...


Andrea I was so surprised by the apothecary's actions! He'd been as kind as anyone to the tiger's wife, and had befriended the grandfather. I didn't understand how the tiger's wife would have been a threat to him. Perhaps the apothecary was tired of hiding, and wanted a way out? Surely he'd know he'd be found out. Perhaps he thought he was helping her, giving her a way out?
I think certainly the grandfather had a sense of ethics-- he had compassion for the tiger AND the tiger's wife, and protected her as he could, even knowing the villagers would look down on him.
Luka was dealt some bad cards, but nothing to justify his actions-- I agree, no sympathy for him.


Michelle I felt quite glad when the apothecary killed the Tiger's wife. I was dreading how the villagers would kill her and her unborn child, and was glad she died a death of "suddeness" (as the Deathless man called it). Glad she didn't know fear and panic by being dragged away by the villagers. I hope the apothecary chose a quick, painless poison for her.

As for why the Grandfather became a doctor, I think the apothecary gave him a glimpse of what education, and learning, and the outside world could be. The villagers were so insular and superstitious - the world of medicine is one of learning, and science and a defeat of superstition. He carried the Jungle Book because of his love of the tiger and the tiger's wife, but also because the book was an opening up of the world for him, as a boy in Galina.


message 4: by Teralyn (new) - added it

Teralyn Pilgrim I need to read this book again. I didn't understand why the apothecary killed the tiger's wife, and it's driving me crazy. I've heard lots of theories, like the ones you've already mentioned, but none of them "click" with me, if that makes sense. Maybe on a second reading, something will stand out. Or maybe we're just not supposed to know.


Joclyn This is a long shot, could the apothecary be the father of the tiger wife's baby?


message 6: by Teralyn (new) - added it

Teralyn Pilgrim Oooo, that's an interesting idea. That would explain his connection to the Tiger's Wife. That could explain why she reacts negatively to him when he tries to give her that drink (they had a falling out), though the book says it's because he was involved in treating her injuries from her abusive husband. It also doesn't explain why he killed her. Hmm...


Joclyn Maybe the negative reaction is because the apothecary treated her injuries but failed to save her from Luka. Maybe the apothcary knew the villagers would know the truth when the baby arrived???


Marionette I too thought that the apothecary could be the baby's father! But also, didn't Luka have relations with her after the last time he beat her? Something about trying to act like a husband? I'll have to go back and read that.

I think the murder was a merciful gesture (in the apothecary's mind) to give her a death of "suddenness" and save her the agony of the mob mentality that was sure to come from the superstitious villagers.

The hanging, I'm not sure I understand. Was it an ethnic cleansing because the apothecary was a Muslim? I don't really feel it was punishment for killing the Tiger's Wife. I think they felt like he saved them from her supposed "evilness".

Any thoughts?


Lisa Williams I thought perhaps the grandfather became a doctor to assuage his feelings of guilt for his part (however unwitting) in her death...that by saving others he could in some way make up for not being able to save her.

I also found it very interesting that he later married a Muslim woman, although this is mentioned so off-handedly that I nearly missed it even the second time I read the book.


message 10: by Lisa (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lisa Williams Marionette wrote: "I too thought that the apothecary could be the baby's father! But also, didn't Luka have relations with her after the last time he beat her? Something about trying to act like a husband? I'll have ..."


I also thought the apothecary might have been the father. It is very vague as to whether Luka rapes her or not, in my reading, because it sort of sounds like he does, but then it also says "he couldn't even hurt her that way." Definitely as if the attempt failed - but again, never conclusive that there might not have been another time, since he clearly wasn't above trying.

I felt the strongest argument for it being the apothecary was that he was so ugly and had those prominent ears, that he was terrified it might look like him. Or just be so strongly ethnic, what with both of their genes (not that they knew about genes, but "blood" as they would've thought of it) that any resemblance to him would've outed him as a "Mohammedan."


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