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The Ninth Hour


A crowning achievement of one of the finest American writers at work today.
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Discuss The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott:
What does Sally learn from Sister Lucy, not only about nursing, but also about the human capacity for cruelty and kindness? How do you think Sister Lucy's prickly personality makes her a better caretaker?

Created: 09/01/18

Replies: 3

Posted Sep. 01, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 1584

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What does Sally learn from Sister Lucy, not only about nursing, but also about the human capacity for cruelty and kindness? How do you think Sister Lucy's prickly personality makes her a better caretaker?

In contrast to Sister Jeanne, Sister Lucy seems skeptical, pragmatic, and often disgruntled. "All joy was thin ice to Sister Lucy," McDermott writes. But Sister Lucy is also a skilled nurse and a fierce advocate for people who are poor, sick, or mistreated. What does Sally learn from Sister Lucy, not only about nursing, but also about the human capacity for cruelty and kindness? How do you think Sister Lucy's prickly personality makes her a better caretaker?


Posted Sep. 06, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
cathyoc

Join Date: 04/26/17

Posts: 25

RE: What does Sally learn from Sister Lucy, not only about nursing, but also about the human capacity for cruelty and kindness? How do you think Sister Lucy's prickly personality makes her a better caretaker?

I think a caregiver has to be a bit removed from the patient. I feel that Sister Lucy did a good job training Sally and letting her see the true service she was thinking of entering into.


Posted Sep. 07, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
reene

Join Date: 02/18/15

Posts: 311

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RE: What does Sally learn from Sister Lucy, not only about nursing, but also about the human capacity for cruelty and kindness? How do you think Sister Lucy's prickly personality makes her a better caretaker?

One of the first things that Sally learns about Sister Lucy is that she "lives with a small, tight knot of fury at the center of her chest". Sister Lucy was tough, she moved right in and took over and did her best to rectify the problems she encountered. She had very clear thoughts about marriage and women's roles in marriage. She saw right through most people and their issues and made no bones about expressing these ideas to Sally. Sister Lucy was very insightful, and could become very annoyed with people who she saw as abusing the system, yet she treated her patients with "exquisite gentleness".
I think Sally learned much from Sister Lucy. Growing up in a convent, as she did, Sally could have had a very false sense of security. Sister Lucy showed her and taught her about the other, and often true side of humanity.


Posted Sep. 20, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
scgirl

Join Date: 06/05/18

Posts: 34

RE: What does Sally learn from Sister Lucy, not only about nursing, but also about the human capacity for cruelty and kindness? How do you think Sister Lucy's prickly personality makes her a better caretaker?

From my own experience I know that putting on an "outer shell" or distancing oneself emotionally helps one get through difficult things. I think Sister Lucy did that. There was so much poverty, disease and sadness that perhaps her "prickly" personality helped her to be more efficient in what she had to accomplish.

I think Sister Lucy did show Sally the "ugly" side of humanity and showed Sally that she could deal with it.


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