State of Wonder Chapters 2-5 Summary & Analysis

Ann Patchett

State of Wonder

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State of Wonder Chapters 2-5 Summary & Analysis

Part 2: Manaus, Brazil

Chapter 2

Marina prepares for her departure to Brazil by seeing a Minneapolis epidemiologist, who gives her several shots, including Tetanus and a Yellow Fever vaccine. He also proscribes her Lariam, a potent anti-malarial drug with severe side effects, including depression.

These Lariam pills trigger an unpleasant flashback to her childhood. Her father, an Indian medical student who had met and married Marina’s white mother while studying at the University of Minnesota, abandoned his American family early in Marina’s childhood, returning to India to take a position at a university in Calcutta. During Marina’s youth, her mother would force her to take Lariam before and during her infrequent trips to visit her father. The Lariam triggered horrific recurring nightmares in which she was separated from and left behind by her father in the teeming crowds of Calcutta.

The evening before her departure, Marina visits Karen Eckman. While her three boys watch television in the den, Karen reveals a letter she had recently received from Anders. It is the second letter that has turned up in a week. The letter chronicles the ravages of a fever that has left him weak and frightened, hanging precariously onto life, and desperate to convey his love to Karen and their children. One line in Anders’ last letter to Karen particularly haunts Marina: “Such is your bravery, such is my good fortune” (43).

At home, she finds Mr. Fox waiting in her driveway, prepared to give her a final brief before her flight to Brazil. Marina invites him in and they make love, falling asleep together afterwards, only to be woken with a jolt by Marina’s jarring screams. She tells Mr. Fox about the dreams, but does not reveal the details, only disclosing that they are “generically awful” (49).  Mr. Fox then drives her to the airport, handing her a going away present in the form of a special phone that will allow her to check messages, email, and make phone calls from anywhere in the world. He reminds her to take the Lariam, to call him regularly, and he implores her to “go down…

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