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Veronika Decides to Die
Veronika decide to die
What is the significance of the word "decides" in the title? Why does Veronika decide to die? What do you make of Veronika's bleak vision of her own future (pages 22-23)? Is this future inevitable? How does Veronika react to the doctor's news that she is suffering from a fatal heart disorder? Why would someone who wants to commit suicide be devastated by the thought of dying?
The word decides is significant in the title because if you removed “decides to” from the title then it would read, Veronika Die. This would then give the impression that someone killed Veronika or she died from an illness or accident. When you add in the word decides, you now know that Veronika’s death will involve some type of suicide.
Veronika decides to die because she has accomplished everything she wanted to in life and no longer in her mind has any reason to live. Veronika feels she does not wish to live what she describes as a boring life. I feel that Veronika’s vision of her own future is only bleak because she decides it is. There are many people whose goal in life is to find someone to love and have children with. This future for Veronika is in no way inevitable. Veronika could easily change it by standing up to her mother and informing her that she does not want to get married. Veronika could also leave any future husband who cheated on her.
When the doctor tells Veronika that she is suffering from a fatal heart disorder, she becomes frightened. The thought of not being able to control her own death devastates her. Veronika originally decided to kill herself using sleeping pills; Veronica takes the pills one by one instead of crushing them and drinking them in water so that she can back out if she decides to. This further shows Veronika’s need to be able to control her own death and why she is so distressed at the loss of control.
What do you think Veronika means when she tells the nurse, "When I took the pills, I wanted to kill someone I hated. I didn't know that other Veronikas existed inside me, Veronikas that I could love" (pg. 65)? Why does Veronika finally feel her negative feelings (pg. 70)? Why hadn't she felt them before? Do most people in our culture truly experience their own negative emotions, or are they like Veronika?
When Veronika tell the nurse, “When I took the pills, I wanted to kill someone I hated. I didn't know that other Veronikas existed inside me, Veronikas that I could love" (pg. 65); I think she meant that she decided to kill herself because she did not like the person that she had become. When she speaks about the other Veronikas, I think she is speaking metaphorically as she did not know that she could have, and still, can make herself into to a different person.
Veronika finally feels her negative emotions because she realizes that she is in a mental hospital and no one is going to judge her for behaving like a mad woman. This revelation breaks the dam that Veronika had been holding all of her negative feelings behind. Veronika conclusively makes the decision to accept herself for who she is, including her negative emotions which she had not allowed herself to feel before. Veronika had blocked off the negative emotions for fear of change. She was afraid that if people saw her as who she was inside then their feelings toward her would change.
I feel that most people in our culture are not like Veronika. While people to bottle up their emotions they do not normally keep them bottled forever. Most people find a way to deal with their negative emotions; generally people do not become patients at mental hospitals because they don’t want to be judged based on their emotions. I personally do not think that Veronika had never felt anger before. I think it was just a lesser degree of anger than what she experiences in the hospital when she discovered that there was no reason to not act the way she felt.
Why does Mari return to Villete even though she no longer has panic attacks? Mari later tells Eduard, "Basically everything that happens in our life is our fault and ours alone. A lot of people go through the same difficulties we went through, and they react completely differently. We looked for the easiest way out: a separate reality." Is she right? Is everything that happens to us our fault? Is mental illness an "easy way out"?
Even though Mari’s panic attacks have stopped, she returns to Villete because she has been labeled as a crazy person for having been admitted to a mental hospital. Despite Mari having been successfully treated, her former employers will not allow her to return to her job as he made “the mistake that destroys us” (128). The day after learning that her job would not welcome her back, she gets a visit from a lawyer asking her to sign divorce documents from her husband. In return for signing the papers, her husband will pay her medical bills while she is a patient at Villete. Between the loss of her job and her husband, Mari reaches the decision to remain in Villete. At Villete Mari knows she will be taken care of and she will not need to worry about how people perceive her or about her financial situation.
Mari tells Eduard, "Basically everything that happens in our life is our fault and ours alone. A lot of people go through the same difficulties we went through, and they react completely differently. We looked for the easiest way out: a separate reality." I partially agree with Mari; I agree that we can choose how to react to a situation. However I do not agree that mental illness an "easy way out". I believe people who fake a mental illness are looking for the easy way out, as Mari does so that she can remain in Villete. I do not believe that people can choose whether or not they are mentally ill any more than they can choose whether or not they get sick. A person can choose to get treatment for their illness and do their best to get better or they can take the easy way out and decide to stay mentally ill.
How do you feel about Dr. Igor's experiment on Veronika? Was it morally justifiable? Has reading this novel changed your perception of what it means to be mentally ill? Do you think Paulo Coelho's novel is an allegory? If so, what is the journey all about?
I feel that Dr. Igor’s experiment on Veronika was fundamentally wrong based on his reasoning for doing the experiment. Dr. Igor’s experiment was wrong because his goal with the experiment was to perfect his thesis not to help Veronika. If his reasoning had been to try to prevent Veronika from leaving the hospital only to attempt suicide again, I would have felt that he was justified. Instead I believe him to be a cruel and selfish person who used a young woman in an attempt to better his career.
Reading this novel has changed my perception of what it means to be mentally ill. I originally thought it was an illness that was similar to any physical illness in that it happened spontaneously and could be treated. I now believe mental illness to be partially the fault of uncontrollable circumstance and partially the fault of the individual. For example, Eduard became mentally ill when his father told him that if he loved his parents he needed to give up the one thing that made him matter to himself, painting. Eduard himself made the choice to give up painting and he made the choice to allow it to affect him as much as it did. It was his circumstance that contributed to making him mentally ill. He was the one who decided to stop functioning because of giving up painting. This leads me to believe that people are, in part, responsible for their own mental illnesses and that they also decide if, and how much, they allow medical professionals to help them overcome it.
I did feel that Paulo Coelho's novel is an allegory. The journey is about rediscovery the joys of life and realizing that how people view you is not as important as how you view yourself. Throughout the novel Veronika discovers what she has been missing out on in life due to her living life the safe way. She never took any risks in life and thus never experienced any great joy either.