Cutting for Stone

Lauren, Dianesa, and Caitlin



Marion's Home Country, Ethiopia 1954:

Missionary doctors came to Ethiopia during this time to find a coup and eventually a civil war raging during Communism's uprising and fight for control. They also found that other countries such as Italians, the British, and eventually the Americans, had begun to station troops to try and end the conflict and make peace. Ethiopia was an extremely dangerous place with lots of violence, which unfortunately led to the closing down to most of the hospitals.

Marion's Internship in New York, 1980s:

The Bronx was in bad shape due to murder, gang violence, and drug crime. The area was almost completely burned down from an arson epidemic, definitely needing someone like Marion to try and help heal and improve the place around him.


Helping others can make you help yourself.

Text to Text:

Communion of Marion and Stone:

-Gosh's wish of Marion to make somewhat of an amends with stone

-Sharing food

-Getting along together

-Internal obstacle: break the built up wall of Marion and his brother Shiva


-Innocence (virginity) lost

-Shiva is older


-Female victim (Genet)

-Destruction aftermath


-"Screw your courage to your sticking place" is Marion's motto which sticks with him to give him courage and to remind him of those he misses.


-The twins are conjoined at the head, possibly representing their close bond and how they were seemingly reading each other's minds.

-The idea of being severed at birth foreshadows the splitting and separation the boys will go to, but at the same time give them their own unique identity.

-Cutting for Stone is from the Hippocratic oath, and the idea of letting specialists handle the situations if you yourself cannot do it shows up in the book: Hema taking over for Stone when he couldn't handle himself, saving the twins' life.

Text to Self:

If you like medical shows/want to go into the medical field you can relate (and better understand) the action that goes on throughout the story. If also you enjoy reading about characters who manage to succeed at emotional healing, you can relate to Marion. As well as being a story with love interest, this book can touch everyone differently.

Text to World:

The world today is egotistical and this the story resonates with the reader who has grown in it: especially since there is focus in the media of people acting with selfish intentions rather than those who act selflessly. Although Marion is damaged himself, he helps other people. He manages to find that heal healing others fixes his own emotional pain, hoping that the reader is able to find peace in that, and take a bit of advice on how they can fix themselves.


“I will not cut for stone, even for patients in whom the disease is manifest; I will leave this operation to be performed by practitioners, specialists in this art.”

Abraham Verghese, Professor and Senior Associate Chair for the Theory and Practice of Medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine and author of Cutting For Stone, conveys to his audience that fixing others doesn’t matter if you are not willing to fix yourself. Verghese does an excellent job of taking his readers into the demanding medical world of two conjoined twins secluded in the Addis Ababa, full of devastating family catastrophes, surreal medical surgeries, and strong internal conflict.

On September 20th, 1954, Marion and Shiva Stone are born in Addis Ababa, the same day their mother, a nun, Sister Mary Joseph Praise died of difficulties from her secret pregnancy. The boys are conjoined at the skull, yet separated at birth; Dr. Kalpana Hemlatha, a strong woman known as Hema, and Dr. Abhi Ghosh, both doctors at the Missing hospital, raise them after their mother dies and father abandons them. The birthplace and home to the story is Missing Hospital, it’s called: “Missing was really Mission Hospital, a word that on the Ethiopian tongue came out with a hiss so it sounded like ‘Missing.’ ” They grow up during the political disorder of Ethiopia and in 1979 Marion flees, first to Nairobi and finally to New York, to free himself from false accusations and to purse his career as a surgeon. Shiva, too, goes into the medical field, specializing in treating vaginal fistula, for which his work is acclaimed in the New York Times. Almost supernaturally close as children, the brothers become more and more detached as the novel progresses; they are dramatically reunited at its end — through the mysterious help of the long-vanished Thomas Stone, their biological father.

The constant surgeries, throughout the book, keep the reader on their toes, but the book does not necessarily start off that way. Verghese includes a great amount of story, before the main plot, in order for the reader to understand the world in which the young twins come into. Praise and Stone, the biological parents of the twins, are not often seen throughout the book, but the impact that the two make on the young boys, and their caretakers, provide context for the world that the boys will try to survive in. Verghese gives a glimpse into the lives of each parental figure to establish the multiple influences that will create the personalities of the boys. Although the boys lack answers to some of their life mysteries, the bond that they share helps create a sense of companionship.

Verghese sets this book in the point of view of Marion Stone, one of the twins. The reader sees Marion’s inner struggles, sympathizes with him, and gets frustrated with him, also. An interesting point that one could make about the book is Marion’s knowledge of things going on both before, and during, his entrance into the world; the boys are born with the knowledge and awareness of all their surroundings. From the beginning of the novel, the reader comprehends that these infants will not grow up to be normal identical twins; their shared bond as MarionShiva brings forth a new feature that many authors have not explored, yet. It is known that Marion is the not favored twin, for Shiva is brilliant, cunning, and manipulating; through this the reader takes sides and understands that people who are so similar can be so different.

Cutting for Stone contains all the elements of an exceptional book: troubled main character, inner turmoil finally resolved, and a life filled with an undying passion. Marion and Shiva’s passion for medicine truly show how influential the healing process is. It is evident in today’s society that we care only for ourselves, but as we see through the eyes of Marion it is finally understood that caring for others has the ability to heal our souls.

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Book Review for Abraham Verghese's Cutting for Stone