Study Guide

A Beautiful Mind Perseverance

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John may be stubborn, unfriendly, bad with people, and isolated, but you can't say he doesn't put 110% into a project.

When he's working on his graduate research, he's so laser focused on the goal of finding an original idea that he really doesn't make time for much else—even going to class (kids, do not try this at home). And eventually it pays off: he finds that huge, revolutionary theory that eventually, when he's much older, wins him the Nobel Prize.

That's a pretty big payoff.

That persistence and, well, perseverance also serves him well when he discovers he has schizophrenia, and he somehow has to find a way to continue working and be there for his family even while trying to get better. The drugs really seem to dull his mind, which makes it hard for him to help out with his son or do his academic work. So, eventually, he goes off them.

Yes, anyone who has ever had or cared about someone suffering from a mental illness will tell you this is an extremely bad idea (again, don't try this at home). However, with a lot of help from his wife, John manages to rebuild his life and get back to work without the assistance of medication (he goes back on different ones later in life, though).

Questions About Perseverance

  1. Well, first off, are we talking about perseverance or just pure stubbornness when it comes to John? That is, is John's rigidity really something to admire?
  2. What about Alicia's perseverance—is she the one we should be talking about in this section?
  3. Do you think the fact that John gives up on his drugs is a good example of perseverance? Why or why not?

Chew on This

John giving up on his therapies is not an example of perseverance. It's just him being stubborn, which is not the same thing.

It takes a crazy level of perseverance to run against the grain of what people in authority are telling you. Sure, it's also arrogant and maybe ill advised, but John's willingness to keep doing what he thinks is right for him, even while people are yelling at him to do the opposite, is definitely an example of perseverance.

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