When Breath Becomes Air

by

Paul Kalanithi

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Cady Kalanithi Character Analysis

Paul and Lucy’s infant daughter (whose full name is Elizabeth Acadia), born just over a year after Paul is diagnosed with cancer and eight months before Paul passes away. Despite knowing that Paul’s time with her will be limited, Paul wants to have a child in order to leave a remnant of himself and his relationship with Lucy in the world. Not only does Cady provide him with a legacy, she also provides him with immense joy in the final months of his life.

Cady Kalanithi Quotes in When Breath Becomes Air

The When Breath Becomes Air quotes below are all either spoken by Cady Kalanithi or refer to Cady Kalanithi. 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:
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). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of When Breath Becomes Air published in 2017.
Part 2 Quotes

“Will having a newborn distract from the time we have together?” she asked. “Don’t you think saying goodbye to your child will make your death more painful?”

Wouldn’t it be great if it did?” I said. Lucy and I both felt that life wasn’t about avoiding suffering.

Related Characters: Paul Kalanithi (speaker), Lucy Kalanithi (speaker), Cady Kalanithi
Page Number: 143
Explanation and Analysis:

Feeling her weight in one arm, and gripping Lucy’s hand with the other, the possibilities of life emanated before us […] Looking out over the expanse ahead I saw not an empty wasteland but something simpler: a blank page on which I would go on.

Related Characters: Paul Kalanithi (speaker), Lucy Kalanithi, Cady Kalanithi
Page Number: 195-196
Explanation and Analysis:
Epilogue Quotes

Caring for our daughter, nurturing relationships with family, publishing this book, pursuing meaningful work, visiting Paul’s grave, grieving and honoring him, persisting…my love goes on—lives on—in a way I’d never expected.

Related Characters: Lucy Kalanithi (speaker), Paul Kalanithi, Cady Kalanithi
Page Number: 224
Explanation and Analysis:
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Cady Kalanithi Character Timeline in When Breath Becomes Air

The timeline below shows where the character Cady Kalanithi appears in When Breath Becomes Air. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 2: Cease Not till Death
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...turn back. Paul lies down on a cot in the delivery room as their daughter, Cady, is born. Paul holds her, and in this newborn he sees the possibility of new... (full context)
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Over the next few days and weeks, Cady experiences a series of firsts: a first grasp, smile, and laugh. Paul, on the other... (full context)
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Paul’s final words in the memoir express hope that Cady will have some memory of him. She is all future, he says, while his life... (full context)
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...family, in a bed a short distance away from the labor and delivery ward where Cady had been born eight months earlier. (full context)
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Lucy jumps back in time to describe Paul’s deterioration. Around Cady’s first Christmas, when she is five months old, Paul’s third treatment option stops working. His... (full context)
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Lucy describes Paul’s final Saturday. The family sits in their living room, holding Cady on his lap, Paul’s mother and father sitting nearby. Paul asks not to see nonfamily... (full context)
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...but Lucy worries that he might die while being driven home. Paul then asks for Cady to be brought to his room. (full context)
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Cady arrives and is nestled next to Paul. Paul’s medical team discusses his respiratory failure with... (full context)
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...shallow, and he slips into unconsciousness. For nine hours, Paul’s family—his mother, father, Suman, Jeevan, Cady, and Lucy—sit vigil as Paul’s breathing becomes increasingly effortful. More family arrives, and then their... (full context)
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As the day comes to a close, a family friend arrives to take Cady home for the night. Lucy holds Cady against Paul, knowing that Cady doesn’t understand that... (full context)
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...her sorrow. Her love for him continues in publishing his book and in caring for Cady. (full context)
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Two days after Paul’s death, Lucy writes a journal entry addressed to Cady. She writes that “When someone dies, people tend to say great things about him.” She... (full context)