Sickness is a part of life, and sometimes a gateway to death. There are many different kinds of sickness- some that strike hard and fast, and others that are slow, painful, and consuming. Alcoholism is a sickness of the latter variety. It slowly takes over a victim's life, ripping away loved ones while ravaging the victim's body from head to toe- beginning with the mind. The healing process is all that can rescue one from sickness- it is the only way to stray from its path and avoid death. In Raymond Carver's, "Where I'm Calling From," the narrator's attempted recovery from years of alcoholism is documented in detail. The story specifically focuses on the damage that alcoholism does to relationships, and how recovering from that damage can be the most difficult part of the healing process.
The narrator begins the story in Frank Martin's drying-out facility. He is a drunk, and has checked into the home for the second time. At the beginning of the story, some of the physical dysfunctions associated with the disease are revealed, and they range from shakes and tremors to seizures. This part of the story is used by Carver to display the physical problems that result from withdrawal from alcohol. It is clear that these problems are significant, but overcoming them doesn't compare to the task of repairing the bonds with family members and friends that have been destroyed. In this story, the healing process is quite unique for the characters in that it involves a large group of men, all suffering from the same illness, pulling together and supporting each other through the pain- almost like a modern day leper colony. They are separated from their family and friends, and are ...
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...e call to his wife. "She'll ask me where I'm calling from, and I'll have to tell her...There's no way to make a joke out of this" (Carver 296). That is what it all comes back to. He will have to tell her that he is still trying to get well, and he must hope that she'll wait for him. His disease is what cost him his marriage, and there is no way he can bring himself to joke or lie about it. He realizes that it is all his fault. The narrator's disease is unique in that his physical addiction will never be cured, but he still has hope of finding happiness and love by refusing to drink. And, if he is to survive, it will be his need for both love and happiness that must control him, and steer him clear of the path of sickness.
Carver, Raymond. "Where I'm Calling From." Where I'm Calling From. New York: Random House, Inc., 1989. 278-296.
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