Another great short story from John B. Rosenman. Interestingly enough, October was a breast cancer awareness month. And that's exactly the diagnosis the heroine of his short story is hoping for. But the news she receives is infinitely worse. As a cancer patient, she could at least expect compassion and support. In her case, the prognosis is quite grim.
Rachel's mysterious disease causes everyone, including her husband, to
fear and reject her. Then her body starts to change in amazing ways.
What will she ultimately become, and can she survive and find a new
sense of identity amid the terror of her transformation?
Set in a near future, The Blue of Her Hair, The Gold of Her Eyes is written in a very accessible, skillfully understated style, without any excessive drama. This short story is loaded with symbolism, built in metaphors and powerful messages that encourage the reader to think critically, explore his/her own beliefs about medical ethics and human rights. There are so many universal topics explored, from mass paranoia, to social ostracism, to pressure to give up the fight.
Americans like to think of themselves as humane, tolerant and compassionate, but when a mysterious illness, reportedly worse than cancer or AIDS, spreads through the community, everyone's tolerance is tested. The main character is one of the highlights in the story. Rachel, a social worker who dedicated her lie to helping others, finds herself discarded after receiving a devastating and mystifying diagnosis. She encounters rejection and companionship in most unexpected places. What really endears her to me is her refusal to beat her chest in self-pity. Her philosophical disposition and willingness to accept her fate give her an advantage over other patients stricken by the same disease. But I won't ruin the story for you. Pick it up and read it yourself!