Study Guide

Hope Was Here Mortality

By Joan Bauer

Mortality

I put my hand on Addie's shoulder. "I decided to let her live." Brilliant, Hope. The man has cancer. (25)

As soon as the words come out of Hope's mouth, she immediately apologizes to G.T. for the death reference. G.T. isn't bothered by it at all, and tells Hope that there's no need for her to watch what she says around him. G.T. makes it clear from day one that his main concern is to make other people comfortable, even when the subject matter is anything but that.

"But those of you who've stared down a thing like cancer know what happens when you get this kind of news about your health. At first, you can't believe it; after that, the fear gets pretty strong. I'm fifty-four years old. I never once felt the need to rush through life until now." (32)

What's remarkable about G.T. is that the fear of dying doesn't paralyze him. It actually energizes him; he takes stock of his life, quickly determines what's still left to do, and hits the fast-forward button to make it all happen in whatever time he has left.

He looked at me, smiling. "Best not mention that on the campaign trail. Cancer and key dysfunction might be more than the voters can handle." (47)

They might not share a bloodline, but Hope and G.T. certainly share a sarcastic wit, one they both use as a means for coping with sensitive issues.

"You want me to vote for some guy who flips burgers on a grill and who's half dead with leukemia?" (50)

Some people—like the speaker of these words—see the grave half-full, but other people, like G.T. and his true supporters, see the grave half-empty.

"You want to know why to vote for a man who's fighting for his life?" we heard G.T. say. "Because no one understands how sweet life can be, how blessed every minute is, how important it is to say and do what's right while you've got the time, more than a person who's living with a short wick." (54)

G.T. may be living with a short wick, but he's making the most of it, even if it means burning the candle at both ends.

The cancer could work for you, G.T. It's a fresh angle." "The problem is dying. I guess that's always the problem." (64)

Just how much money is G.T. paying the infamous spin doctor for these wonderful words of wisdom?

"The thing I hate most about dying is how we deny its existence as long as we can. Nobody knows how long they've got on this earth. And we all need to live our lives just a little bit like the hearse is outside ready to cart us away—make the days count." (66)

G.T. acknowledges personally and publicly that his days are numbered. It fits his tell-it-like-it-is without making anyone uncomfortable nature that draws people to him.

"But life's never been more clear to me than when I got this cancer." (112)

G.T.'s well-aware that he's not the picture of health and physical strength that most people look for in a political candidate, but as he tells Hope, he knows running for office is the right thing to do.

She handed him a little card with flowers on it that read LIVE THE DAY, NOT THE CANCER. (113)

Nothing could be more fitting to describe G.T.'s outlook on life than the message printed on the card G.T. is given by the owner of the Tick Tock Clock Shop after a meet-and-greet with members of her cancer survivors group.

Leukemia can come back, the doctors warned. You live with that. Addie helped me deal with the uncertainty. "We're going to get as much as we can with the time we've been given. We're going to be grateful for whatever time that is." (174)

Addie's sentiments are yet another example of how the characters in this novel choose to focus on the positive rather than the negative, even when it comes to mortality.

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