Friday, April 07, 2006

Moloka'i

Moloka'i is a first novel by Alan Brennert, which I read in hardcover in 2005. It just came out in paperback.

My Early fascination With Leprosy

I've been interested in leprosy since I was a little girl and heard about it -- I have a vivid memory of the lepers in the movie Ben Hur being healed by Jesus -- I remember watching it on TV and asking my dad what was wrong with them. I saw movies about Father Damian, a priest who went to Moloka'i to care for the lepers (and convert them), who got leprosy as well.

There is also an interesting depiction of the period of time -- 1890's to early 1900's -- at the beginning of this novel in the movie The Hawaiians, with Charlton Heston. Based on the novel by James Michener, The Hawaiians is about the descendents of the characters in the movie Hawaii.

In The Hawaiians, the great Japanese actor, Mako, portrays Mun Ki -- a Chinese immigrant to Hawaii who ends up fathering many sons with another immigrant, played by actress Tina Chen, even though he has a wife and family he is sending money to in China. When Mun Ki gets leprosy, his "wife" hides his condition as long as possible. When the leprosy inspectors find out about Mun Ki, she goes with him, to care for him, to Moloka'i. She is permanently exiled there with him, and ironically, never contracts leprosy herself -- some people are inherently immune.

My fascination with leprosy is two-fold. One source is my own skin disorder, a genetically caused condition called epidermolytic hyperkeratosis (EHK). EHK causes the body to produce skin cells faster than normal, and the cells don't break down properly, so there is considerable flaking and callousing, and blistering when friction occurs -- such as the friction caused by walking. Put simply, it is different looking and scary looking to some people.

When I heard about leprosy as a young girl, I was intrigued by the idea of being someplace where everyone else had the same disease; they wouldn't be scared of each other, would they? I didn't meet anyone else with EHK until I was 35.

I was also intrigued by the fact that leprosy doesn't hurt -- in fact that is a huge part of the problem. Nerve damage causes numbness, and burns and injuries can occur without the person with leprosy being aware of it. Discomfort is a big issue with my disability; its "otherness", like leprosy, is in the appearance, but it also can hurt. How would I feel if my disability didn't hurt, and I only had the social issues with which to contend.

The Novel

The main character of Moloka'i, Rachel Kalema, is a young girl at the beginning of the book, which also helped to draw me in. When she is diagnosed with leprosy, she is taken away from her family and exiled to Moloka'i, where she spends most of her life.

The novel covers the entire arch of the treatment of leprosy and leprosy patients from the 1890's to the 1960's. Leprosy becomes the less stigmatizing "Hansen's Disease". In the 1940's, drug therapy is developed that causes the leprosy to go into remission; it also renders it not communicable, if the patients continue their medication.

The novel, like any book about a small community where the members are thrown together involuntarily -- novels about the Holocaust and about the internment of the Japanese during WWII come to mind -- is a study in human nature as well. How different people react to similarly horrendous circumstances; for some, it brings out the best in them, for others, the worst.

I highly recommend this novel.

41 Comments:

Blogger barb michelen said...

Hello I just entered before I have to leave to the airport, it's been very nice to meet you, if you want here is the site I told you about where I type some stuff and make good money (I work from home): here it is

4:48 AM  
Blogger goodmangood said...

goodjob!........................................

7:14 PM  
Blogger 出國日 said...

與其期盼別人疼你,不如自己疼自己。..................................................

3:21 AM  
Blogger 香蕉哥哥 said...

thank for share, it is very important . ̄︿ ̄

3:51 PM  
Blogger 雅芳 said...

thank you for you to make me learn more,thank you∩0∩ ........................................

10:31 PM  
Blogger 黎仁南 said...

在莫非定律中有項笨蛋定律:「一個組織中的笨蛋,恆大於等於三分之二。」..................................................

11:00 PM  
Blogger 李惠玲 said...

成功可招引朋友,挫敗可考驗朋友......................................................

6:54 AM  
Blogger 嘉容嘉容 said...

看到你的好文章真是開心 加油囉.......................................

1:34 AM  
Blogger GarthThur2218554 said...

寫文章需要心情~~期待你再一次的好文章..............................

9:56 PM  
Blogger Stephany9991 said...

People throw stones only at trees with fruit on them.......................................................

9:55 PM  
Blogger 2013LesleyR_Bradshaw0901 said...

好的開始並不代表會成功,壞的開始並不代表是失敗......................................................

1:25 AM  
Blogger 韋于倫成 said...

你的blog超棒.............................................

6:40 PM  
Blogger 火吟 said...

沒有目標而生活,恰如沒有羅盤而航行......................................................

6:53 PM  
Blogger 韋于倫成 said...

很耐斯的部落格,留言支持你繼續加油........................................

5:52 AM  
Blogger 正玲正玲 said...

回應是我能為您做的最大的支持 ........................................

11:11 PM  
Blogger NorrisBradwell04張 said...

黃金千金,不如季布一諾。 ............................................................

2:59 AM  
Blogger BryannaR22369 said...

you have a good taste!............................................................

6:57 PM  
Blogger 則義 said...

婚姻對男人來說是賭他的自由,對女人而言卻是賭她的幸福。..................................................................

6:13 AM  
Blogger 萱祥 said...

被人揭下面具是一種失敗,自己揭下面具卻是種勝利。..................................................................

8:34 AM  
Blogger 張怡 said...

河水永遠是相同的,可是每一剎那又都是新的。......................................................................

2:33 AM  
Blogger 思翰思翰 said...

河水永遠是相同的,可是每一剎那又都是新的。....................................................................

3:35 PM  
Blogger 堅強堅強 said...

人有兩眼一舌,是為了觀察倍於說話的緣故。............................................................

2:14 AM  
Blogger 惠桂惠桂 said...

人生是故事的創造與遺忘。............................................................

12:11 AM  
Blogger JasonBirk佳琪 said...

向著星球長驅直進的人,反比踟躕在峽路上的人,更容易達到目的。............................................................

6:01 AM  
Blogger 佩璇佩璇 said...

安安唷~~幸運的日子送給妳(你)滿滿的幸福,也祝福你天天都開心唷..................................................................

6:17 AM  
Blogger 倫惟倫惟 said...

Riches serve a wise man but command a fool.............................................................

7:12 PM  
Blogger 吳婷婷 said...

愛,拆開來是心和受兩個字。用心去接受對方的一切,用心去愛對方的所有。............................................................

1:07 AM  
Blogger 廖珮秋廖珮秋 said...

很棒的分享~~~來留個言囉~~~~..................................................................

5:11 PM  
Blogger 珮瑜 said...

從來愛都不知它的深度,非得等到別離的時候.................................................................

1:57 AM  
Blogger 魏江伶魏江伶 said...

不論做什麼事,相信自己,別讓別人的一句話,把你擊倒。..................................................

12:17 AM  
Blogger 吳淑芬吳淑芬 said...

thx u very much, i learn a lot............................................................

9:20 PM  
Blogger 奕蕭君 said...

We could learn a lot from crayons. Some are sharp, some are pretty and some are dull, Some have weird names , and all are different colors, but they all have to live in the same box .............................................................

10:52 PM  
Blogger 李宜毛正任昌 said...

愛,拆開來是心和受兩個字。用心去接受對方的一切,用心去愛對方的所有。......................................................................

1:10 AM  
Blogger 家唐銘 said...

所有的資產,在不被諒解時,都成了負債..................................................................

10:43 PM  
Blogger 秀李李迪秀李李迪 said...

說「吃虧就是便宜的人」,多半不是吃虧的人。......................................................................

6:19 PM  
Blogger 于庭吳 said...

.有價值的東西,都要付出代價。-................................................

1:11 AM  
Blogger 童建李宜昌智 said...

世間事沒有一樣沒有困難,只要有信心去做,至少可以做出一些成績。..................................................

12:57 PM  
Blogger 惠邱邱邱邱雯 said...

時間可證明一切~你的BLOG是我覺得不賴的............................................................

2:57 PM  
Blogger 王辛江淑萍康 said...

nice job! waiting for your new artical.............................................................

8:34 PM  
Blogger 怡靜怡靜怡靜怡雯 said...

男女互悅,未必廝守終生,相愛就是美的。......................................... ........................

1:26 AM  
Blogger 冠州 said...

果然是好文章 受益良多 感謝分享 ̄ 3 ̄......................................................

4:47 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home