Gail Anderson-Dargatz’s masterpiece, The Cure for Death by Lightning, recounts the story of Beth Weeks, a fifteen-year-old living on a farm near a reserve. Throughout the story, Beth has to endure different kinds of ill-treatment as well as an invisible predator who seems to be following her. Through her struggle, the author reveals that a character, despite being abused, and having to live in difficult conditions can evolve into a mature and responsible young woman. Beth’s encounters, as well as her choices throughout the novel, help her overcome her difficult situation and put a stop to the abuse she’s going through.
Firstly, some encounters Beth has in the story help her surmount the difficult conditions she lives in. Specifically, her encounter with Nora makes her more determined and more inclined to stand up for what she wants. The following extract illustrates that rather clearly: “I’m going to see Nora tomorrow,” I said. “While Dad’s out in the field. He doesn’t have to know. ” “You’ll stay here,” she [her mother] said. “I need your help. ” “I’ll do the work and then I’ll go. You can tell him or not. I’ll leave after he’s gone out for lunch and come back before supper. ” “You will not leave this house. ”
“What are you going to do to stop me? (Page 162) It is important to note that Beth is informing her mother of her plans and not seeking out her permission. Following their encounter, Beth and Nora’s relationship evolved into a very intimate friendship that means a lot to Beth. As a result, Beth is more determined to stand up to her parents to maintain that friendship. She decides to fight for what she wants rather than bow her head and obey without protest. That builds up her strength of character and make her stronger when faced with other conflicts. By the same token, Beth’s encounter with Nora make her less of a follower and more of a participant.
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Indeed, Beth, who is someone who doesn’t mingle much, is brought out of her shell thanks to Nora. In the following extract, Beth’s eagerness to participate to the winter house project Nora proposes is obvious; ‘“We could decorate it,” I [Beth] said. “Hang some things up the wall. ”’ (Page 131) In brief, following her encounter with Nora, Beth has become a much more determined and much less secluded character. That change helps her stand up to her fears more and make some difficult choices that she may not have been able to make without that input.
Secondly, some choices Beth make throughout the novel help her evolve into the mature and responsible young woman she becomes in the end. For instance, her decision to quit school after her classmates bully her helps her detach from that disheartening environment. She can roam around freely in calming and peaceful places such as the one described in the following extract: “At first, the forest was quiet. Then I began hearing the noises that made up the quiet: trees aching, birds whistling, someone chopping wood way off. (Page 106)
Quitting school turns out to be a rather therapeutic experience for Beth who can finally escape to a place a few hours a day to unload the stress her difficult situation is giving her. That enables her to be less stressed and pessimistic when faced with other conflicts. Similarly, Beth’s choice to stay home and not accompany Nora to Vancouver is a major decision that helped her resolve many conflicts. It is underlined in the following extract: “You going to come with me? ” [asked Nora] I shook my head and looked at the carpetbag she carried.
“What’re you staying here for? she said. “Your father’s coming back. You know he is. ” “It’s home,” I said. “I don’t know anything else. ” “You’re never going to if you don’t step out. ” “I got things to do here first,” I said. “I’ll go when I’m ready. Anyway, Mum needs me now. ” In this extract, it is uncovered that Beth is choosing to stay and face her father, whom she has great conflicts with, and her problems head-on, rather than escape and avoid them forever. She chooses the right way instead of the easy way out. It unveils how much Beth has grown and how mature and brave she has become.
Finally, it is obvious that Beth’s encounters, as well as her choices throughout the novel, help her overcome her difficult situation and put a stop to the abuse she’s going through. These two factors are obviously very essential to Beth’s growth. Although I think that Beth’s development is due to her great bravery and strength of character, I don’t think that she would have achieved such maturity if she hadn’t been faced with the encounters she’s been faced with, or the choices she had to make. The turn the events took definitely helped Beth become the mature and responsible young woman she has evolved in.
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