Gifted Hands Summary and Study Guide

Ben Carson

Gifted Hands

  • 42-page comprehensive study guide
  • Features 22 chapter summaries and 5 sections of expert analysis.
  • Written by a professional writer with a Master's degree in Education
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Gifted Hands Summary and Study Guide

SuperSummary, a modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, offers high-quality study guides for challenging works of literature. This 42-page guide for “Gifted Hands” by Ben Carson includes detailed chapter summaries and analysis covering 22 chapters, as well as several more in-depth sections of expert-written literary analysis. Featured content includes commentary on major characters, 25 important quotes, essay topics, and key themes like Prejudice and Faith.

Plot Summary

Ben Carson’s Gifted Hands (1990) is a memoir of his life from early childhood to the surgery that helped make his career: the separation of two conjoined twins joined at the back of the head. Before his retirement in 2013, Carson was a neurosurgeon and Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Maryland. At 33 years old he became the youngest chief of pediatric neurosurgery in the United States, and continued to pioneer many new techniques in the field. Carson re-entered the public eye during the 2016 US presidential election, where he was one of several candidates running during the republican primaries. He currently serves as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story (2009) is also the name of a made-for-television movie version of the memoir, tracing his life from 1961 until 1987.

The book begins when Carson was eight years old, during the divorce of his mother and father. At the time young Bennie could not understand why his father was leaving never to return; as he grew much older Carson eventually realized it was because his father had been secretly keeping another family. That knowledge didn’t affect his youth, especially since his mother, Sonia Carson, worked hard to shield Bennie and his brother Curtis from the realities of the divorce and the situation it put their family in. Carson’s father did not pay child support, which resulted in a fairly impoverished upbringing while they tried to maintain their house in Detroit. Carson admits that Sonia has had a massive influence on his life, and describes her as an incredibly driven “classic type-A” personality, who married his father at the age of 13 to escape her life amongst 23 siblings. She is frugal, goal-oriented and instils in both of her children a sense that through hard work they will be able to accomplish anything. While Carson admits that as a young person he perceived this as somewhat nagging, he also admits that he did (and does still) believe that he could accomplish anything.

As they grew older Ben and Curtis began to experience the pressure of trying to fit in at school. He notes earlier that his father was obsessed with appearances, and for a while it seems to Ben that this looks are of upmost importance too, as he tried desperately to appear to be cool to his classmates. He develops a poor attitude and his grades begin to suffer, but Carson credits his mother’s unwavering belief in him, and belief in God with driving him to be successful in school despite this. He endures prejudice at the hands of some classmates and teachers, but by the time he arrives in high school Ben is determined to be the best kid in his class.  After high school he attended Yale University on a full academic scholarship where he continuously excelled and first met his wife Candy. Candy was a musician, also from Michigan and though she is a few years behind him, Ben is attracted by her intelligence.

Carson was aware early on during his time at Yale that he wanted to go on to become a doctor. Once he graduated, he began medical school at Michigan State University, which was both affordable and close to home. His original plan was to become a missionary doctor or psychiatrist, but as his studies deepened, Carson decided that he wanted to pursue neurosurgery. He found out that the neurosurgery program at Michigan State was in jeopardy, and transferred to Johns Hopkins to complete his studies. Carson’s excellence continued at one of the most prestigious medical schools in the country with fellow students and interns alike often…

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