The Doctor’s Words

“I will bet on it.  He will live to be ninety.  He has turned the corner.  How he has survived this attack will be puzzle to me all my life,” replied the doctor (25)

Narayan, R.K.  (1984)   Malgudi Days. New York: Penguin Group.

Notes: It is strange how the doctor is unaware of how Gopal survived the heart attack since Narayan makes it very clear that it is the doctor’s words which help Gopal survive.  The doctor is aware that Gopal is going to die.  However, when Gopal constantly pleads with the doctor to let him know the truth, the doctor lies to Gopal by assuring him that he will become hale and hearty.  He lies to Gopal since he doesn’t want to Gopal to lose “that thousandth part of a chance [he had] of survival” (Narayan, 25).  The interesting fact is when the doctor visits Gopal the next day, “[Gopal] had turned the corner” since he was awake and well (Narayan, 25).  Gopal’s sudden improvement in health proves the fact that it is the doctor’s lie which gave him the hope for survival.  If the doctor had lied to in order to give Gopal the hope for survival, how can it not have come across his mind that his words had a placebo effect on Gopal?  Is the doctor trying to be modest or is he really clueless as to how Gopal survived?

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