Death, Dying, Grief and Mourning

            "Death is always the same,
                               but each man dies in his own way."

Carson McCullers, Clock Without Hands, 1960

   

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in Western Literature

An Anthology by  Adrienne Nater

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Carson McCullers, Clock Without Hands, 1960

 

Death of J.T. Malone

Death of J. T. Malone:

Chapter One — Paragraph One:

Death is always the same, but each man dies in his own way. For J. T. Malone it began in such a simple ordinary way that for a time he confused the end of life with the beginning of a new season. The winter of his fortieth year was an unusually cold one for the Southern town — with icy, pastel days and radiant nights. The spring came violently in middle March in that year of 1953, and Malone was lazy and peaked during those days of early blossoms and windy skies. He was a pharmacist and, diagnosing spring fever, he prescribed for himself a liver and iron tonic. Although he tired easily, he kept to his usual routine: He walked to work and his pharmacy was one of the first businesses open on the main street and he closed the store at six. He had dinner at the restaurant downtown and supper at home with his family. But his appetite was finicky and he lost weight steadily. When he changed from his winter suit to a light spring suit, the trousers hung in folds on his tall, wasted frame. His temples were shrunken so that the veins pulsed visibly when he chewed or swallowed and his Adam’s apple struggled in his thin neck. But Malone saw no reason for alarm: His spring fever was unusually severe and he added to his tonic the old-fashioned course of sulphur and molasses — for when all was said and done the old remedies were the best. The thought must have solaced him for soon he felt a little better and started his annual spring garden. Then one day as he was compounding a prescription he swayed and fainted. He visited the doctor after this and there followed some tests at the City Hospital. Still he was not much worried; he had spring fever and the weakness of that complaint, and on a warm day he had fainted — a common, even natural thing. Malone had never considered his own death except in some twilight, unreckoned future, or in terms of life insurance. He was an ordinary, simple man and his own death was a phenomenon.

Last Page of 200:

But his livingness was leaving him, and in dying, living assumed order and a simplicity that Malone had never know before. The pulse, the vigor were not there and not wanted. The design alone emerged. What did it matter to him if the Supreme Court was integrating schools? Nothing mattered to him. If Martha had spread out all the Coca-Cola stocks on the foot of the bed and counted them, he wouldn’t have lifted his head. But he did want something, for he said: "I want some ice-cold water, without any ice.

But before Martha could return with the water, slowly, gently, without struggle or fear, life was removed from J. T. Malone. His livingness was gone. And to Mrs. Malone who stood with the full glass in her hand, it sounded like a sigh.

 

 

   
 

Adrienne Nater, 2008

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