Study Guide

Cutting for Stone Mortality

By Abraham Verghese


Don't get too attached to any of the characters in Cutting for Stone. Spoiler alert—everyone dies. Well, okay, not everyone—but almost everyone. It's not like there's some bloodbath, but the novel spans half a century and, well, that's pretty close to a human lifespan.

The novel begins with Marion's mother's death, just after he and his twin have been born. Maybe it's that early loss the leads Marion to an obsession with medicine. Unfortunately, mortality goes with the territory when it comes to medicine, and the hospital setting pretty much makes this book an automatic candidate for a meditation on mortality.

Questions About Mortality

  1. Whose death affected you the most as you read?
  2. How does Shiva live on even after he dies?
  3. What is the significance of Sister Mary Joseph Praise's death for her sons?

Chew on This

Cutting for Stone gives us alternative ways of looking at death, letting us see that it isn't necessarily final.

Death is a natural and necessary part of life in Cutting for Stone.