Study Guide

Cutting for Stone Strength and Skill

By Abraham Verghese

Strength and Skill

The surgeons who populate Cutting for Stone might not be competing for title of World's Strongest Man, and they may not be looking to topple Usain Bolt—but all the same, they're dedicated, trained, and super skilled. Even in an underfunded hospital like Missing, they manage to conduct cutting-edge research, develop new theories, and save lots and lots of lives.

The theme of strength and skill drives the plot as well as the ambitious characters, and the lesson it teaches us is that skill is all well and good, but we can't forget to live while we're dedicating ourselves to our lives' work. Not a bad reminder, right?

Questions About Strength and Skill

  1. Who's the better surgeon, Marion or Shiva?
  2. Why do you think all of the characters in the novel are attracted to the medical profession?
  3. Why does Dr. Thomas Stone's skill fail him just when he needs it most, to save Sister Mary Joseph Praise?

Chew on This

The characters in Cutting for Stone mistake technical skill for being valuable as human beings.

In Cutting for Stone, the characters hone their medical skills as a way to distract themselves from the suffering around them.