A Beautiful Mind

A Beautiful Mind

by

Sylvia Nasar

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A Beautiful Mind: Chapter 37 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Emma Duchane, a friend of Alicia’s, helps Alicia to find an apartment after Nash is committed. Remarkably, Alicia seems calm and composed, despite Nash’s hospitalization and her pregnancy: she believes that her husband’s “mind and career could be saved.” Since her future, as she sees it, depends on his, she is determined to help him regain his livelihood. As a result, she regards Nash as the only problem in her life—not her pregnancy—and fails to make arrangements for the birth. Alicia gives birth to a baby boy on May 20, 1959, in the Boston Lying-In Hospital, but does not name the child, who remains nameless for nearly a year.
Alicia’s commitment to Nash and the sacrifices she makes for him are remarkable: despite the catastrophic circumstances, she remains calm and focused, prioritizing his needs above her own—and that of their unborn child.
Themes
Love, Desire, and the Impact of Hidden Lives Theme Icon
Nash gets permission from McLean to leave for the evening to visit Alicia the day after the birth: there, he uses a napkin to cover up the “In” in the hospital’s name, written on a sign nearby, so that it reads “Boston Lying Hospital.” The suggestion is that Alicia is “lying”—though it is not clear what he believes she is lying about. After his release, Nash returns to the math department, where he hands out notices for a “coming out party,” or a “Mad Hatter’s Tea”: a costume party, ostensibly for thanking the colleagues who visited him at McLean. Nash and Alicia hold at least two parties after his hospitalization, one of which was remembered by a guest as a “sad,” “depressing,” and “bizarre” evening.
Despite Alicia’s sacrifices for Nash, his paranoia causes him to alienate himself from her, accusing her of “lying”; their relationship grows more troubled and complicated. Though he is able to return to the math department at MIT, he continues to exhibit odd, though strangely self-aware behavior—his “Mad Hatter’s Tea” party seems to be an acknowledgment of his own “madness.”
Themes
Mental Illness, Recovery, and the Quest for Knowledge Theme Icon
Love, Desire, and the Impact of Hidden Lives Theme Icon
Nash decides to resign his MIT professorship so that he can move to Europe: he has decided that he wants to obtain Swiss citizenship. Nash submits a resignation letter, which Levinson tries to refuse; ultimately, though, MIT is unable to force Nash to stay on. Nash has been invited to spend a year in Paris at a leading center of mathematics, the College de France, and Alicia agrees to accompany him, leaving their son behind with her mother.
Nash’s desire to flee America is motivated by his paranoid belief that he is being surveilled by spies for the American government. He hopes to become a citizen of Switzerland, a “neutral” country where he feels he will be safer. Whereas Nash once searched for meaning in his academic work, he is now searching for meaning in his own paranoid delusions—and in the chaotic fantasies generated by his own mind. 
Themes
Mental Illness, Recovery, and the Quest for Knowledge Theme Icon