Analysis Of Contract Tracing By Vincent Lam

Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures examines the connections between the complications of medicine and one’s humanity. The author Vincent Lam does this by crafting a telling story that explains the subjective nature of practicing medicine. Firstly, he employs complex medical terminology that readers are unfamiliar with. This creates a feeling of detachment and unfamiliarity. As a result, he magnifies certain situations, highlighting their life-and-death nature. Lam also employs a creative approach in his formatting. In “Contract Tracing,” he tells a portion of the story through the detailed memos of a doctor. This sets the scene in an engaging way and also adds a sense of urgency. It also slowly reveals crucial details about each character. This …show more content…
Much of this short story is told through the careful notes of Dr. Zenkie, who is the doctor for Fitzgerald and Chen. These slow, but serious memos cause the reader to be immersed in the urgency of the story. Lam also uses these notes to slyly make revelations like the fact Chen is also completing his “own quarantine period” (Lam 274). He also addresses Ming as “your [Chen’s] wife,” nonchalantly reveals the fate of one of the protagonists. Through slowly revealing these details, Lam makes a comment on the normalcy of certain situations in the medical field. One of the ways he does this is by ending “Contract Tracing” in a seemingly normal news clip. Lam barely mentions that Fitzgerald “collapsed within an isolation room” and is “in critical condition” (304-305). This was truly an anticlimactic moment in which Lam chose not to bring attention to Fitzgerald’s fate. It gives the effect of portraying death to be typical. Furthermore, Lam reinforces medicine’s ability to dehumanize individuals by using concise, but ambiguous explanations. A way Lam does this can be seen in the professional formatting of World Health Organization (WHO) files. The files warn the “majority of [SARS] cases occur in health care workers,” which prompts the reader to foreshadow a daunting future for the characters. Again, this is done so the reader can understand the uncertainties of …show more content…
Lam takes readers onto this path by first creating distance between the reader and the story. This mirrors the fact that medicine is subjective to each doctor, and it is likely to be influenced by his or her own feelings. Lam further adds to this message by using a special form in which to explain the fate of the characters. Through these explanations and a somewhat climatic ending to the story, he is able to communicate that medicine is uncertain. It is so uncertain that even doctors and nurses can fall victim to deadly diseases. These connections are brought together to discuss one overarching theme of the book. This theme is that medicine can cause an individual to lose their own humanity. Is this a helpful or harmful thing? Well, that is solely up for the reader to

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