A Beautiful Mind

A Beautiful Mind

by

Sylvia Nasar

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A Beautiful Mind: Chapter 46 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
In 1970, Alicia offers to let Nash live with her, realizing that no one else will take him in. She believes that living near an academic community—Princeton—will help him to recover and prove more beneficial than another hospitalization. After Nash moved to Boston, Alicia began dating another math professor who had also been hospitalized, at one point, for mental illness. Alicia lost her original job in Princeton and struggled to find employment afterward; she moved into a small house with her mother and son, now known as “Johnny,” in Princeton Junction, a township near the Princeton campus.
Meanwhile, Alicia cares tirelessly for both Johnny and the math professor he briefly dates, just as she made numerous sacrifices to care for Nash: Nasar emphasizes that Alicia is naturally giving and generous, motivated by love to protect the people closest to her.
Themes
Mental Illness, Recovery, and the Quest for Knowledge Theme Icon
Love, Desire, and the Impact of Hidden Lives Theme Icon
Nash joins them there as a “boarder,” contributing some income, from his mother’s will, as rent.  Eventually, Alicia manages to get a job at Con Edison in New York City, and she enrolls Johnny in private school, where he excels as a student. Later, though, Johnny begins to exhibit disturbing, psychotic behavior—like Nash, he believes himself to be a “great religious figure”—and as a result, Alicia has him hospitalized at the Carrier Clinic. Meanwhile, Alicia tries to cope quietly with Johnny’s outbursts, just as she tried to cope with Nash’s.
Alicia and Nash’s son, Johnny, also suffers from schizophrenia; scientists have determined that if one individual experiences schizophrenia, multiple members of their family may also have the illness. Johnny’s illness becomes yet another tragedy in Nash’s life, though it also offers Nash the opportunity to redeem himself. Nash feels guilty that he may have passed the illness on to his son, but caring for Johnny helps him to learn the value of empathy for others, strengthening his relationship with his son.
Themes
Mental Illness, Recovery, and the Quest for Knowledge Theme Icon
Love, Desire, and the Impact of Hidden Lives Theme Icon
In 1977, John David Stier comes to visit Nash in Princeton; the following year, Johnny goes to Boston to visit Eleanor and John David. John Stier and Nash do not see each other again for another seventeen years after this initial meeting, since John Stier finds Nash’s behavior “disturbing.” Johnny ends up majoring in math at Rider College in New Jersey, where he displays an aptitude for difficult math concepts; he later transfers to Rutgers University with a full scholarship and goes on to PhD study there.
At one point, Nash’s broken ties to his family seemed irreparable: now, though, he is beginning to reconcile with his sons, and his sons are beginning to see him as a real father. Tragically, though, while John Stier experienced a difficult childhood because of his father’s absence, Johnny is afforded valuable opportunities for education that John Stier never received. Nash finds it difficult to acknowledge that his sons have grown up to have very different lives—a direct result of his own actions.
Themes
Genius, Morality, and Relationships Theme Icon