Mountains Beyond Mountains

Doctor Paul Farmer Character Analysis

The protagonist of Mountains Beyond Mountains, Paul Farmer is a brilliant doctor and anthropologist. Moreover, he’s a devoted humanitarian, to the point where he can’t imagine a life for himself that doesn’t involve taking care of the sick and injured in Third-World countries like Haiti and Peru. Farmer has always been interested in helping the downtrodden, and his most profound struggles have always concerned how best to help them. Unlike many of his colleagues at Harvard Medical School, Farmer is a proponent of liberation theology, an interpretation of Catholicism that supports active engagement in one’s community. At the same time, Farmer doesn’t believe in God: he embraces Catholicism and yet questions it deeply. Farmer’s conflicted relationship with science and religion makes him a natural fit for practicing medicine in Haiti, where he makes an effort to understand Haitians’ relationship with Voodoo. During the course of the book, Farmer also grapples with the ethics of cost-efficiency: for every patient he chooses to help, he’s effectively denying his treatment to hundreds of others. Ultimately, Farmer stands as a fascinating, complex figure: fiercely committed to Catholicism, yet agnostic; devoted to other people, yet almost a stranger to his wife and child.

Doctor Paul Farmer Quotes in Mountains Beyond Mountains

The Mountains Beyond Mountains quotes below are all either spoken by Doctor Paul Farmer or refer to Doctor Paul Farmer. 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:
Cost-Efficiency vs. the Value of Life Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Random House edition of Mountains Beyond Mountains published in 2009.
Chapter 2 Quotes

As Farmer was leaving the shelter, he heard Joe say to another resident, just loudly enough to make Farmer wonder if Joe meant for him to overhear, “That guy’s a fuckin’ saint.”

Related Characters: Tracy Kidder (speaker), Joe (speaker), Doctor Paul Farmer
Page Number: 16
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 3 Quotes

He made about $125,000 a year from Harvard and the Brigham, but he never saw his paychecks or the honoraria or royalties, both fairly small sums, that he received for his lectures and writings. The bookkeeper at PIH headquarters cashed the checks, paid his bills—and his mother’s mortgage—and put whatever was left in the treasury. One day in 1999, Farmer tried to use his credit card and was told he’d reached his limit.

Related Characters: Tracy Kidder (speaker), Doctor Paul Farmer
Page Number: 23
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 4 Quotes

And then of course it dawned on him that he knew plenty of Americans—he was one himself—who held apparently contradictory beliefs, such as faith in both medicine and prayer. He felt, he said, as though he hung in the air before his patient, “suspended by her sympathy and bemusement.”

Related Characters: Doctor Paul Farmer (speaker), Tracy Kidder (speaker)
Page Number: 35
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 5 Quotes

By then Farmer had quit his fraternity. He wrote them that he couldn’t belong to an all-white organization. (“I received quite a frosty reply,” he would say, in a tone of voice that implied this still surprised him.) He’d come to admire his father’s distaste for putting on airs.

Related Characters: Tracy Kidder (speaker), Doctor Paul Farmer
Page Number: 56
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 6 Quotes

But independence had been followed by nearly two hundred years of misrule, aided and abetted by foreign powers, especially France and the United States. (From 1915 to 1934, the U.S. Marines had occupied and run the country.) To Farmer, Haiti’s history seemed, indeed, like The Lord of the Rings, an ongoing story of a great and terrible struggle between the rich and the poor, between good and evil.

Related Characters: Tracy Kidder (speaker), Doctor Paul Farmer
Page Number: 63
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 7 Quotes

For a long time I thought I could live and work in Haiti, carving out a life with you, but now I understand that I can’t. And that’s simply not compatible with your life—the life you once told me you would like to lead even ten years ago.

Related Characters: Ophelia Dahl (speaker), Doctor Paul Farmer
Page Number: 66
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 8 Quotes

He was already attracted to liberation theology. “A powerful rebuke to the hiding away of poverty,” he called it. “A rebuke that transcends scholarly analysis.” In Haiti, the essence of the doctrine came alive for him. Almost all the peasants he was meeting shared a belief that seemed like a distillation of liberation theology: “Everybody else hates us,” they’d tell him, “but God loves the poor more. And our cause is just.”

Related Characters: Doctor Paul Farmer (speaker), Tracy Kidder (speaker)
Page Number: 78
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 9 Quotes

On the way back they laughed about the incident, and yet of all the times she’d eaten things that she could hardly bear to look at, this one occasion when she failed the test stood out for her.

Related Characters: Tracy Kidder (speaker), Doctor Paul Farmer, Ophelia Dahl
Page Number: 87
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 10 Quotes

Some people said that medicine addresses only the symptoms of poverty. This, they agreed, was true, and they’d make “common cause” with anyone sincerely trying to change the “political economies” of countries like Haiti. But it didn’t follow, as some self-styled radicals said, that good works without revolution only prolonged the status quo, that the only thing projects like Cange really accomplish is the creation of “dependency.”

Related Characters: Tracy Kidder (speaker), Doctor Paul Farmer, Jim Yong Kim
Page Number: 100
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 11 Quotes

He’d write about how the Centers for Disease Control, a federal U.S. agency, had gone so far as to identify Haitians as a “risk group,” along with several other groups whose names began with h—homosexuals, hemophiliacs, and heroin users—and about the incalculable harm all this had done to Haiti’s fragile economy and to Haitians wherever they lived. In his thesis, he’d marshal a host of epidemiological data to show that AIDS had almost certainly come from North America to Haiti.

Related Characters: Tracy Kidder (speaker), Doctor Paul Farmer
Page Number: 106
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 12 Quotes

In early 1994, just before The Uses of Haiti came out, Farmer wrote an editorial for The Miami Herald. The gist of it was: “Should the U.S. military intervene in Haiti? We already have. Now we should do so in a new way, to restore democracy.”

Related Characters: Doctor Paul Farmer (speaker), Tracy Kidder (speaker)
Page Number: 117
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 15 Quotes

The motion of his mind toward root causes had always excited him. He loved the challenge of diagnosis and all its accoutrements—the stains on the microscopic slides, the beautiful morphologies of the creatures under the lens. But what he called “the eureka moment” had a bad aftertaste this time. Later he would tell me, “God, I’d hate to ever feel triumphant about something so rotten.”

Related Characters: Doctor Paul Farmer (speaker), Tracy Kidder (speaker)
Page Number: 140
Explanation and Analysis:

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Farmer and Kim began collecting a number of official WHO statements. Some put the case more plainly: “In developing countries, people with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis usually die, because effective treatment is often impossible in poor countries.” For Farmer […] there was a larger principle involved. A TB epidemic, laced with MDR, had visited New York City in the late 1980s; it had been centered in prisons, homeless shelters, and public hospitals. When all the costs were totaled, various American agencies had spent about a billion dollars stanching the outbreak. Meanwhile, here in Peru, where the government made debt payments of more than a billion dollars every year to American banks and international lending institutions, experts in international TB control had deemed MDR too expensive to treat.

Related Characters: Tracy Kidder (speaker), Doctor Paul Farmer, Jim Yong Kim
Page Number: 141
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 18 Quotes

Then Goldfarb spoke up again, his voice calm and acidic. “I want to share with you a simple reality. I have six million dollars. With three million dollars I can eemplement DOTS for five thousand Russian prison inmates. And assuming that ten percent have MDR-TB, forty-five hundred will be cured and five hundred will go down with MDR-TB and die. And there’s nothing much you can do. So. I have a choice. And my choice is to use another three million dollars to treat the five hundred with MDR-TB, or go to another region and treat another five thousand. I’m working with leemited resources. So my choice is not involved in the human rights of five hundred people, but five hundred people versus five thousand people.

Related Characters: Alex Goldfarb (speaker), Doctor Paul Farmer
Page Number: 162
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 19 Quotes

As sometimes happened, Paul seemed to know what Jim was thinking. “What do you want to do now?” he asked. There was warmth in the question, Jim felt, a real invitation for him to come clean. “Political work is interesting to me, and it has to be done,” he said. “I prefer it to taking care of patients. It’s O for the P on an international scale.”

Related Characters: Doctor Paul Farmer (speaker), Jim Yong Kim (speaker)
Page Number: 174
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 20 Quotes

Farmer was forty now, and he had the credentials to operate in the way Hiatt envisioned, on a purely executive level. In academic circles his reputation had grown. He was about to become a tenured Harvard professor. He was near the head of the line for the big prizes in medical anthropology; some of his peers were now saying that he’d “redefined” the field.

Related Characters: Tracy Kidder (speaker), Doctor Paul Farmer, Howard Hiatt
Page Number: 182
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 21 Quotes

He distrusted all ideologies, including his own, at least a little. “It’s an ology, after all,” he had written to me about liberation theology. “And all ologies fail us at some point. At a point, I suspect, not very far from where the Haitian poor live out their dangerous lives.” Where might it fail? He told me, “If one pushes this ology to its logical conclusion, then God is to be found in the struggle against injustice.

Related Characters: Doctor Paul Farmer (speaker), Tracy Kidder (speaker)
Page Number: 195
Explanation and Analysis:

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It still seemed to me that he took a stance all too conveniently impregnable. He embodied a preferential option for the poor. Therefore, any criticism of him amounted to an assault on the already downtrodden people he served. But I knew by now he wasn’t simply posing. I felt something about him that I’d later frame to myself this way: He said patients came first, prisoners second, and students third, but this didn’t leave out much of humanity. Every sick person seemed to be a potential patient of Farmer’s and every healthy person a potential student. In his mind, he was fighting all poverty all the time, an endeavor full of difficulties and inevitable failures.

Related Characters: Tracy Kidder (speaker), Doctor Paul Farmer
Page Number: 210
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 26 Quotes

If you say, Well, I just think how much could have been done with twenty thousand dollars, you sound thoughtful, sensible, you know, reasonable, rational, someone you really want on your side. However, if you were to point out, But a young attending physician makes one hundred thousand dollars, not twenty, and that’s five times what it cost to try to save a boy’s life—that just makes you sound like an asshole. Same world, same numbers, same figures, same currency.

Related Characters: Doctor Paul Farmer (speaker)
Related Symbols: John’s Treatment
Page Number: 289
Explanation and Analysis:

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Doctor Paul Farmer Character Timeline in Mountains Beyond Mountains

The timeline below shows where the character Doctor Paul Farmer appears in Mountains Beyond Mountains. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
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Tracy Kidder begins his book by noting that he first met Dr. Paul Edward Farmer in 1994, “because of a beheading.” Kidder, a journalist, was in Haiti at... (full context)
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...gets some visitors. A group of four Haitians tells the soldiers that a doctor named Paul Farmer has come to see Captain Carroll. Kidder notices immediately that Farmer is short, delicate,... (full context)
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A few weeks later, Kidder meets Farmer on board a flight to Miami. On the flight, Farmer gets to talking about the... (full context)
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A few weeks later, Kidder invites Farmer to dinner in Boston. Above all, Kidder is struck by Farmer’s easy-going attitude—he seems totally... (full context)
Chapter 2
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...Hospital, and other legendary medical institutions. One such institution is the Brigham, a hospital where Farmer sometimes works. (full context)
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The year is 1999. Farmer works in Brigham, and specializes in Infectious Diseases, or I.D. He’s a “big-shot” Boston doctor... (full context)
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Farmer goes to talk to Joe, who’s very amiable, despite his condition. Farmer tells Joe that... (full context)
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...with “warmth, our drugs, and a 6 pack of Bud.” Everybody can tell immediately that Farmer wrote this note. Farmer has found a homeless shelter for Joe. Although the shelter forbids... (full context)
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In early 2000, Farmer leaves Brigham and travels back to Haiti. He emails Kidder, telling him to come back... (full context)
Chapter 3
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In 2000, Kidder is in Haiti, having been invited there by Farmer. He’s driven through Haiti along the National Highway, a road surrounded on all sides by... (full context)
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Kidder follows Farmer through a typical day. Farmer wakes early, dressing in jeans and a t-shirt. His co-workers... (full context)
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...They work in unsanitary conditions, and work long hours. When Zanmi Lasante was first established, Farmer and his colleagues arranged a system whereby patients only had to pay about 80 cents... (full context)
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Kidder notes that the average hospital in Massachusetts serves about 175,000 people a year. Although Farmer’s facilities in Haiti serve about the same number, they do so with a tiny fraction... (full context)
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Kidder gives more information about Farmer. He’s married to a Haitian woman named Didi Bertrand. They have a daughter, who lived... (full context)
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Every morning in Haiti, Farmer goes to his offices in Zanmi Lasante. He usually has a couple dozen patients waiting... (full context)
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...medical problems. One woman explains that her son has “sold” his brother to a sorcerer. Farmer is comfortable talking with patients in terms of magic and sorcery for long stretches of... (full context)
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In Haiti, Farmer uses new antiretroviral drugs to treat AIDS and HIV. These drugs are still cutting-edge, and... (full context)
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Kidder describes how late one night Farmer rushes to the Zanmi Lasante facilities, where a young girl is suffering from meningitis. Farmer... (full context)
Chapter 4
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Kidder senses that Farmer is treating him like a student—someone to be trained in the importance of helping other... (full context)
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As a young man in Haiti, Farmer was trying to maximize the effectiveness of treatments for tuberculosis. He noticed that many Haitians... (full context)
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Farmer spent long hours trying to understand the Haitians’ attitude toward magic. Once, he spoke with... (full context)
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...to the village of Morne Michel, a faraway community that still sends patients to see Farmer. One day, Kidder and Farmer go to visit Morne Michel to track down a patient... (full context)
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Farmer and Kidder walk out to Morne Michel. Kidder notes that Farmer has spent a lot... (full context)
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As they walk through Morne Michel, Farmer tells Kidder about the misery that Haitians endure. They don’t have enough food to feed... (full context)
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On their walk back to the hospital, Kidder and Farmer pass by a cockfighting pit. As Farmer walks past, Haitians produce chairs for him to... (full context)
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During their walk back, Kidder and Farmer stand on the top of a hill, looking down at Haiti. Kidder sees that much... (full context)
Chapter 5
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Kidder researches Farmer’s life. He was born in Massachusetts in 1959. His mother was a farmer’s daughter, and... (full context)
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When Farmer was about 12, his father moved the family once again, to Tampa, Florida. Farmer’s mother... (full context)
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Farmer’s father loved to go sailing. He had a boat, the Lady Gin, in which Farmer... (full context)
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Farmer was an excellent student in high school. He was president of his class, and attended... (full context)
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Farmer’s father died at the age of 49, very suddenly. He’d seemed to be a healthy... (full context)
Chapter 6
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Kidder interviews Farmer’s friends from college. They recall that Farmer was warm, charismatic, and extremely clever. He studied... (full context)
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Farmer cites the 19th century doctor Rudolf Virchow as one of his biggest influences. Virchow is... (full context)
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Farmer was intensely political at Duke. In 1980, he was struck by the murder of Archbishop... (full context)
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In 1983, Farmer won a prize of 1,000 dollars for an essay about Haitian art. He decided to... (full context)
Chapter 7
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The chapter begins with a letter that Farmer received from a woman he wanted to marry. In the letter, a woman named Ophelia... (full context)
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Kidder explains that Farmer met Ophelia Dahl in 1983, when they were both working at Eye Care Haiti. Ophelia,... (full context)
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As Ophelia spent more time with Farmer, she came to see that he was charming, sensitive, and more than a little nerdy.... (full context)
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Within a few months, Farmer and Ophelia became lovers. Farmer wrote her a poem called “The Mango Lady,” about the... (full context)
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...Haiti for the time being. She began preparing to begin her premed education. She and Farmer sent one another love letters, and recommended each other books. A few months after returning... (full context)
Chapter 8
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In May 1983, Farmer came to Cange, Haiti for the first time. He was immediately struck by the crudeness... (full context)
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Farmer left Cange shortly after visiting, as he had more work to attend to in Port-au-Prince.... (full context)
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Shortly after recovering from his dysentery, Farmer met a young American doctor. Once, when the young doctor was about to fly home,... (full context)
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Inspired by his studies of liberation theology and his experience with the young doctor, Farmer set out establishing new hospital facilities in Haiti. Using his college connections in the U.S.,... (full context)
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Farmer went to the Haitian town of Mirebalais to work for the priest Père Lafontant. Lafontant’s... (full context)
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In early 1984, Farmer was treating a young woman in Cange who suffered from malaria. While the woman’s father... (full context)
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Kidder loops back to discuss Farmer’s training in medicine. In 1984, the 24-year-old Farmer enrolled at Harvard Medical School. He spent... (full context)
Chapter 9
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During his years in Harvard Medical School, Farmer developed his own form of religious faith. Farmer struggled with Christianity and belief in God,... (full context)
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In 1985, Ophelia flew back to Haiti to see Farmer. By this point, Farmer was comfortable with his role as an American doctor in Haiti:... (full context)
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Ophelia loved spending the summer with Farmer. And yet she couldn’t help but notice the differences between her own personality and abilities,... (full context)
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During his time with Ophelia, Farmer threw himself into the design of his new hospital. He conducted a new health census,... (full context)
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Farmer admired Père Lafontant for his calm leadership. Under his supervision, engineers established a pipe system.... (full context)
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Farmer’s ambitious plans for helping the Haitians would require huge sums of money. Farmer was able... (full context)
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White contacted Farmer, and ended up flying out to meet Farmer in Haiti. The poverty in Haiti made... (full context)
Chapter 10
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For the second half of the 80s, Ophelia visits Farmer in Haiti every summer. Although Ophelia treasures her time with Farmer, she finds herself trying... (full context)
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...instead, power shifts to the military, and things remain more or less the same. Once, Farmer and Ophelia are in Port-au-Prince when shots break out: the army is breaking up a... (full context)
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In 1988, Ophelia comes to live with Farmer in Boston, where Farmer is busy with his clinical rotations. Although Farmer is forced to... (full context)
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At the end of his clinical rotations, Farmer is preparing to come to Haiti permanently. Then he is hit by a car in... (full context)
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In the early 90s, Farmer proposes to Ophelia, and she turns him down. Hurt, Farmer tells Ophelia that he can’t... (full context)
Chapter 11
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In December 1988, after recovering from his broken leg, Farmer returns to Cange, Haiti. Haiti is in shambles at the time—the departure of Baby Doc... (full context)
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In 1990, Farmer receives his Ph.D. and his M.D., and wins prizes for his AIDS thesis. He’s now... (full context)
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In 1990, it’s rumored that there will be elections in Haiti. To his great surprise, Farmer finds that he’s become a political target, and he receives threatening phone calls from the... (full context)
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In the summer of 1991, Farmer goes to work at Brigham, and uses the time to raise extra money for his... (full context)
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On September 29, 1991, Farmer travels back to Haiti to consult about the hospital construction plans. When he arrives, he’s... (full context)
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On his next trip to Haiti, Farmer is pleased to find that he can enter the country without a problem. He resumes... (full context)
Chapter 12
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...of Haiti’s military junta. She’s terrified of being arrested or killed for being associated with Paul, who supported Aristide. She’s even more disturbed after she learns that Farmer has accepted 10,000... (full context)
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One day, a soldier comes to Farmer’s hospital, armed. Farmer rushes to the soldier and tells him to leave. The soldier points... (full context)
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In 1993, Farmer receives his MacArthur genius grant. At the awards ceremony in Chicago, Farmer notes ruefully that... (full context)
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For much of 1994, Farmer lectures across America about the situation in Haiti. He isn’t particularly popular, since he’s regarded... (full context)
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When Farmer returns to Haiti, he finds a country torn apart by the junta. Thousands have been... (full context)
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Farmer is now 35 years old. In the U.S. he’s a superstar in both medicine and... (full context)
Chapter 13
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In Haiti, Farmer faces a serious problem: multidrug resistant tuberculosis bacilli. MDR-TB (i.e., multidrug resistant tuberculosis) was common... (full context)
Chapter 14
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While studying at medical school, Kidder explains, Farmer visited a church run by the priest Jack Roussin, or Father Jack. The church is... (full context)
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...a slum in Lima, Peru, where he’s to take on a new parish. He tells Farmer that PIH should start a project there. Farmer agrees, and convinces Tom White to raise... (full context)
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Farmer is devastated by Father Jack’s sudden death. He investigates drug-resistant TB, wondering how deadly it’s... (full context)
Chapter 15
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Kidder comes to Carabayllo with Farmer. He’s struck by the traffic congestion in the area, and the gloom of the city... (full context)
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In Carabayllo, Farmer and his assistants identify 10 cases of MDR-TB. He obtains samples of TB bacilli in... (full context)
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Farmer develops a hypothesis for the cause of the MDR-TB. The 10 patients must have had... (full context)
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Farmer researches the history of TB treatments in Lima, and realizes that the World Health Organization... (full context)
Chapter 16
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In Peru, there is a “rigorous” anti-TB program, established in 1991. Farmer believes that at the present, faulty drug treatments have caused hundreds of drug-resistant strains of... (full context)
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Jim Kim and Farmer plan to treat MDR-TB in South America. Jim cynically points out that first world countries... (full context)
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...is unpopular in Peru, because it implies that the Peruvian government’s health measures are insufficient. Farmer and his team are derisively nicknamed Médicos adventureros: “adventuring doctors.” The government points out that... (full context)
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Farmer tries to use his political influence to work around the Peruvian government. He makes a... (full context)
Chapter 17
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In 1994, Farmer begins dating a new woman, Didi Bertrand. She’s the daughter of a schoolmaster in Cange,... (full context)
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...MDR cases, representing approximately 10 percent of all cases in the slum. A friend of Farmer’s, Howard Hiatt—an influential professor at Harvard Medical School—advises PIH to find new methods of payment... (full context)
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...schedule, in which he travels to Cange and then Peru, sometimes in the same day. Farmer’s schedule is even tougher, and he barely sleeps at all anymore. He develops nausea, and... (full context)
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Farmer resumes his work in Peru working with MDR patients. The Peruvian government has “softened” its... (full context)
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Kidder backs up to explain Farmer’s experience treating Christian. Two years ago, Christian was severely ill with TB, and could barely... (full context)
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On the day that Kidder sees Farmer reunite with Christian, Farmer proceeds with his other cases. He examines a young girl with... (full context)
Chapter 18
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...1998, and a special meeting of tuberculosis specialists, organized by Howard Hiatt, gathers in Boston. Farmer’s hospital in Lima has treated 53 patients over the last 2 years, and more than... (full context)
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...it’s a testament to a country’s bad medical practices. One doctor, Arata Kochi, argues that Farmer’s innovations in Lima have changed TB treatment forever: from now on, the emphasis will be... (full context)
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...named Alex Goldfarb, talks about his experiences treating TB in Russian prison populations. Hiatt and Farmer explain how expensive it is to treat TB, but add that the costs of treatment... (full context)
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...that doctors should never underestimate the efforts of a small group of people, such as Farmer and his PIH team. (full context)
Chapter 19
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...in the third world will fail, unless they’re accompanied by the MDR treatments pioneered by Farmer in Peru. Farmer’s research has begun to establish a new paradigm in the medical world.... (full context)
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Kidder stops to give some background information about Farmer’s partner, Jim Kim. Kim was born in South Korea and grew up in Iowa in... (full context)
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...anthropology, doing most of the research in pharmaceutical companies in South Korea. When he met Farmer, he was struck by Farmer’s devotion to helping the people of Haiti. Inspired by Farmer,... (full context)
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In the late 90s, Jim Kim and Farmer are researching drugs for treating MDR. They know from experience that the cost of a... (full context)
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...called the Green Light Committee promoted second-line meningococcal vaccines in the third world. Kim and Farmer plan to found a new committee for the circulation of second-line TB drugs. The committee... (full context)
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By the year 2000, the new Green Light Committee, headed by Farmer and Jim Kim, has driven down the costs of MDR drugs by about 95 percent.... (full context)
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Jim Kim and Farmer meet in Austria to attend a conference on TB. They discuss the “O for P,”... (full context)
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Kidder considers what Jim Kim and Farmer have accomplished in Peru. The medical world thinks in terms of cost-effectiveness, arguing that it’s... (full context)
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Jim Kim, Farmer, and Ophelia devise a bold new strategy. Using their success with treating MDR, PIH will... (full context)
Chapter 20
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As the chapter begins, Howard Hiatt is explaining to Kidder that Farmer and Jim Kim have “mobilized the world to accept drug-resistance TB as a soluble problem.”... (full context)
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Farmer is now 40 years old. He’s a tenured professor at Harvard, and renowned for “redefining... (full context)
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To get a sense for how busy Farmer has become, Kidder “tags along” with him for a month in early 2000. He travels... (full context)
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...a system of conscripted labor that dates back to the time of slavery. Kidder and Farmer visit a Haitian prison to inspect the living conditions, and make a variety of other... (full context)
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The next day, Farmer and Kidder fly to Miami. At the Miami airport, Farmer “catches up” with his friends—he’s... (full context)
Chapter 21
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Kidder and Farmer land in Havana, and Farmer ecstatically notes the beautiful trees and green fields. Although Cuba... (full context)
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Farmer has a conflicted relationship with communism. He finds it perfectly obvious that society is locked... (full context)
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Farmer has flown to Cuba to attend a medical conference, visit a friend, Dr. Pérez, and... (full context)
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At the medical conference, Farmer meets Luc Montagnier, the doctor usually credited with discovering AIDS. Farmer and Montagnier discuss the... (full context)
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After the conference, Farmer gets to work on his latest book, which is about the history of inequality and... (full context)
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The next day, Farmer and Kidder go on a tour of a Cuban sanatorium designed for AIDs patients. Farmer... (full context)
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Kidder notes that Farmer travels more than anyone he’s ever met, and yet he’s never seen the tourist destinations... (full context)
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As they’re preparing to leave Cuba, Kidder suggests to Farmer that the Cubans must love Farmer for his denunciations of U.S. foreign policy, as he... (full context)
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Farmer and Kidder’s next trip is to Russia, by way of Miami and Paris. Kidder considers... (full context)
Chapter 22
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Before flying to Russia, Farmer and Kidder visit Didi, who’s studying the history of colonialism. As they’re taking a taxi... (full context)
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In Paris, Farmer joyfully reunites with Didi and his daughter, Catherine. Didi asks Farmer when he’s flying to... (full context)
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Kidder has asked Farmer about Catherine before. Shortly after Catherine’s birth, a woman gave birth to a stillborn baby... (full context)
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Farmer had come to Paris to celebrate Catherine’s second birthday. Guests at the birthday party include... (full context)
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...de Gaulle Airport, Kidder points out that the city seems like another world from Haiti. Farmer points out that this is wrong: Paris’s prosperity is intimately tied to Haiti’s poverty, and... (full context)
Chapter 23
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...Russia by funding medical research in the country. On the flight from Paris to Russia, Farmer explains to Kidder that this project has been going on for some 2 years. George... (full context)
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Farmer continues to explain the history of the TB project in Russia. Farmer told George Soros... (full context)
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Kidder and Farmer arrive in Russia. Although they drive by Russia’s beautiful towers and churches, they don’t stop... (full context)
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Farmer and Kidder dine with the chief of Russian doctors, along with some of the chief’s... (full context)
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Kidder notes that Farmer and Jim Kim have demonstrated that MDR can be treated cost-effectively, meaning that they’re often... (full context)
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On the day of the World Bank conference, Farmer dresses in a surprisingly stylish suit, explaining to Kidder that politics is all about the... (full context)
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Kidder watches Farmer and Goldfarb playfully arguing about prison populations. Farmer claims that the vast majority of people... (full context)
Chapter 24
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...overjoyed with this development, plans to eliminate at least 80 percent of cases of MDR. Farmer is also delighted, though he worries that news of the Gates Foundation’s generosity will result... (full context)
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Although Farmer will be traveling to Peru to help out with the new Gates endowment, he continues... (full context)
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...in Russia. Soros decided to pull out of Russia for the foreseeable future, and asked Farmer and PIH to replace his organization. (full context)
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Shortly after the Soros Foundation appoints the PIH its successor, Jim Kim tells Farmer that he’s unable to come to a meeting in Russia, as he has another meeting... (full context)
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A few weeks after his argument with Farmer, Jim Kim flies to Siberia, and Kidder goes with him. They travel into the town... (full context)
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The next morning, Jim Kim leaves Russia and Farmer arrives. He spends his day examining MDR patients, and attends another banquet in the evening.... (full context)
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Farmer travels more than ever, Kidder notes, and for a while Kidder communicates with him mostly... (full context)
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Farmer now turns to the project of fighting AIDS around the world. There have been antiretroviral... (full context)
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Kidder notes that Farmer has already made the acquaintance of the influential economist Jeffrey Sachs, who founded the Global... (full context)
Chapter 25
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Farmer has always found the flight from Haiti to Boston strange, Kidder reports. When he arrives... (full context)
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...diagnosing John requires several trips to and from Haiti, over the course of several weeks. Farmer’s assistant, Serena Koenig, arranges an emergency medical visa for John, so that he can exit... (full context)
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While Farmer attends a Soros conference in Europe, Serena prepares to fly John out to Mass General... (full context)
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...the pediatric wards of Mass General, and the team has John in bed very quickly. Farmer, who’s agreed to meet Serena in Boston, tells Serena that she did the right thing... (full context)
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...to see her son just before the end of his life. Shortly after John’s death, Farmer offers her a job at Zanmi Lasante, which she accepts. Months after the incident, the... (full context)
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...treatment. In a sense, he thinks of it as a lesson in the impossibility of Farmer’s project—a symbol of its futility. (full context)
Chapter 26
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...after John’s transportation to Boston. Kidder is in Boston, preparing to travel to Cange with Farmer for one of the last times. In Cange, Kidder speaks with Ti Jean, Farmer’s “chief... (full context)
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...Alcante, who came to Zanmi Lasante with a sever case of scrofula—an infectious disease. After Farmer treated Alcante for the disease, he made a full recovery. Afterwards, Alcante’s entire family journeyed... (full context)
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Kidder describes the long walk that he and Farmer make to Casse, accompanied by Ti Jean. The hike is even longer than the one... (full context)
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After leaving the house, Kidder tries to ask Farmer a question he’s been formulating for a while—ever since John’s death. He points out that... (full context)
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Farmer discusses John’s death with Kidder. It’s certainly possible to question Serena’s decision to move John... (full context)
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Kidder and Farmer continue walking through Casse. After many hours, they arrive at Alcante’s home. Alcante and his... (full context)
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Kidder remembers a wealthy donor who abruptly stopped donating to Farmer and PIH, on the basis that while Farmer was a great doctor, his nonprofit model... (full context)
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Farmer and Kidder return to Zanmi Lasante. There, Ti Jean has been supervising patient care in... (full context)