The Cider House Rules
Social Issue Identification and Discussion
The Cider House Rules a novel by John Irving focuses on abortion. It develops the issue by having characters with various viewpoints on abortion. The setting of the novel lends itself well to the issue as it is primarily set in an orphanage where the head doctor, Dr. Larch performs abortions (Irving 8). It is revealed that Dr. Larch is performing these abortions illegally (12) as he believes the law is unnecessary, "I know it's against the law. I ask you, what has the law ever done for this place?" (24). As the plot moves along a woman is admitted to the hospital whose baby dies as a miscarriage as it was too late for an abortion but because the woman did not seek proper medical attention out of fear of the effect it would have on her reputation (29). The woman had attempted to abort the child herself as there is a "crochet hook" lodged inside her that was responsible for killing the child. Upon witnessing Dr. Larch questions Homer; an orphan who had trained under Dr. Larch and is against abortions, "if that woman had come to you four months ago what would you have done? Nothing! It means someone else is going to do the job, some moron who doesn't know how." (32) This is a very significant quotation as it uses the issue of abortion to develop the theme of the choices people make with their own bodies.
Despite the fact that abortions are illegal, Dr. Larch believes people will attempt them regardless of the law out of desperation. The issue manifests itself as a channel through which the theme of choice and lack thereof is explored. Had the woman had the choice of getting a proper abortion without the risk of legal consequence or societal judgment the woman may have not suffered such extreme pain and a fever of "one hundred and four degrees" (30). As Dr. Larch stated "someone else is going to do the job" meaning when people have no choice they will take drastic...