The Laramie Project

The Laramie Project

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Dr. Cantway is an emergency room doctor in Laramie who treats both Matthew Shepard and Aaron McKinney in the same day. Dr. Cantway recalls that Matthew’s injuries were the kind normally seen in severe car crash victims. Dr. Cantway expresses profound compassion for both Matthew and Aaron, modeling the generous compassion that the playwrights themselves seem to try to uphold in the making of their play.

Dr. Cantway Quotes in The Laramie Project

The The Laramie Project quotes below are all either spoken by Dr. Cantway or refer to Dr. Cantway. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Homophobia, Tolerance, and Acceptance Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Dramatists Play Service edition of The Laramie Project published in 2001.
Act 1: Finding Matthew Shepard Quotes

They were both my patients and they were two kids. I took care of both of them…of both their bodies. And… for a brief moment I wondered if this is how God feels when he looks down at us. How we are all his kids…Our bodies…Our souls…And I felt a great deal of compassion…for both of them…

Related Characters: Dr. Cantway (speaker), Matthew Shepard, Aaron McKinney
Page Number: 46
Explanation and Analysis:

In this quote, Dr. Cantway describes his feelings when he realized that he had treated both Matthew Shepard and his murderer, Aaron McKinney, on the same day at the hospital. Matthew was brought to the hospital in unstable condition after his attack, while Aaron came to the emergency room earlier in the morning for minor unrelated injuries.

Dr. Cantway explains that he felt intense compassion for both Aaron and Matthew when he realized that he had treated both young men—or as he calls them, “kids.” Dr. Cantway compares his feelings of empathy for both Matthew and Aaron as nearly god-like, saying he believes that God feels immense love for “all his kids.” Dr. Cantway’s experience treating both men is a highly spiritual one, and in his understanding of religion, which clearly shapes Cantway’s own morality, God is a universally loving figure rather than one of punishment and exclusion.

When Dr. Cantway uses the word “kids” for both Aaron and Matthew, he deemphasizes Aaron’s individual responsibility in the assault by drawing attention to his youth and implying that Aaron may be modeling his behavior after other, older people who raised him. Dr. Cantway’s view of Aaron could be perceived as too generous, as it does not really hold Aaron accountable for his actions, but it also exemplifies the universal empathy that the playwrights seem to be trying to encourage throughout the play.

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Dr. Cantway Character Timeline in The Laramie Project

The timeline below shows where the character Dr. Cantway appears in The Laramie Project. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1: Finding Matthew Shepard
Violence, Punishment, and Justice Theme Icon
Dr. Cantway , the emergency room doctor the night Matthew Shepard was brought in, describes how he... (full context)
Homophobia, Tolerance, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Violence, Punishment, and Justice Theme Icon
...shoes were missing. Reggie struggled to release Matthew from the fence without hurting him further. Doctor Cantway speaks again, talking about how he hoped it was not a Laramie resident that hurt... (full context)
Homophobia, Tolerance, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Violence, Punishment, and Justice Theme Icon
Religion, Morality, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Theater and Representation Theme Icon
Dr. Cantway notes that, strangely, Aaron McKinney came into the emergency room for an unrelated problem just... (full context)