A Beautiful Mind

A Beautiful Mind

by

Sylvia Nasar

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A Beautiful Mind: Chapter 43 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Though Nash tolerates his position at Brandeis, he is also lonely, and he feels that he has forfeited his former status in the mathematical community. Nash visits Eleanor and John David every week, and though these visits are mostly pleasant, old tensions between Eleanor and Nash resurface: John David later recalled that his father usually seemed “aloof.” Later, John David would remember his childhood as “miserable,” since he was shuttled between foster homes—some abusive—and orphanages before returning to live with Eleanor as a teenager. Eleanor herself was frequently ill and lost many jobs. But Nash’s reappearance seems to promise the beginning of a better life for John David, since Nash promises to pay for his son’s college education.
To Nash, Eleanor and John David have always been of secondary importance: they are his “second” family, and he has often neglected them throughout his life. Yet as he begins to recover, he slowly begins to realize the error of his ways, and he pledges to have more of a presence in their lives—acknowledging, for the first time, that his relationships with others are important, and that he will have to make amends for his past behavior.
Themes
Genius, Morality, and Relationships Theme Icon
Nash misses Alicia, who discourages him from visiting Princeton, though he finds a “friendly” community at Brandeis. Nash seems more reserved now and less arrogant and outspoken than he once was; he is able to complete research that is later published in the Annals of Mathematics, a “remarkable feat” for someone who has been experiencing psychosis for most of six years. Nash has lost some of his memories, but he is still capable of producing high-quality scholarly work, and he secures an appointment at MIT for the fall. In summer 1966, Nash begins to unravel again, writing delusional letters to his family and wandering around Harvard Square in a daze. In early 1967, he visits a cousin in San Francisco and Amasa Forrester in Seattle; he returns to Cambridge later that year very ill and leaves for Virginia to stay with his mother in June.
Though Nash’s mental illness has affected his cognitive abilities—causing him to lose some memories of the past six years—he remains as perceptive and intelligent as ever. Even though he feels as if he has “lost” some of his mental abilities, he is still a brilliant thinker, speaking to the lasting power of his gifts as a mathematician. Again, though, Nasar shows that his recovery is hardly linear: though he is able to return to academic life for a short period of time, Nash quickly relapses again.
Themes
Mental Illness, Recovery, and the Quest for Knowledge Theme Icon