Patch Adams is a movie based off of a novel (a true story) about a doctor who fought adversity and defied the norm in medical school. During his studies at VCU Medical Center, Patch meets a woman named Corinne whom he falls in love with. While in school, they open their own clinic along with another friend of theirs in the mountains in which they use nontraditional medicine to treat patients for various ailments. One of the patients that they take in is not mentally sound. Patch, a believer in the all around good in people, does not see the man as a threat, though Corinne has a funny feeling about him. Ultimately the patient kills Corinne. In the clip from the movie posted above which occurs before Corinne’s death, she explains to Patch that the reason she has issues falling in love is that she was sexually abused by a man in her childhood. She tells him, “When I was a girl I would look out my bedroom window at the caterpillars; I envied them so much. No matter what they were before, no matter what happened to them, they could just hide away and turn into these beautiful creatures that could fly away completely untouched.” After Corrine’s death, Patch goes out to the mountains and stands on a ledge getting ready to jump. After talking to God for a few minutes he decides that since God has forsaken him, God is not worth killing himself over. As Patch turns around, a butterfly flutters over to him and lands on his finger (depicted below).
I found the portrayal of death and dying in this particular film useful and helpful. Personally, it helps me to think of a deceased loved on as in a better place. The movie suggests that after Corinne’s death, she became what she had always wanted to be. Seeing the butterfly helped Patch go on with his life and gave him some closure. On the other hand, not everyone gets such a “sign” after someone they love has died so this can also be perceived as misleading. In the movie, there is a clear string of events when it comes to Corinne’s death. First she is killed then there is a funeral. This is the media influencing the idea that someone dies, then there is a ceremony for them. The media in general portrays a diverse portrait of how society deals with death and dying. The movie Patch Adams specifically shows the stages of grieving. Upon hearing the news Patch is sad at first and most likely shocked. Soon after he becomes angry and then indifferent. This is proven when he decides to walk away from the clinic that he established with Corinne and their other friend.
There is a scene in the movie in which Patch visits a terminally ill man in the hospital. This man had a reputation among the nurses of being extremely repulsive and rude. In the scene, Patch walks into the man’s room dressed as an angel. The conversation went like this:
Patch Adams: Death. To die. To expire. To pass on. To perish. To peg out. To push up daisies. To push up posies. To become extinct. Curtains, deceased, Demised, departed And defunct. Dead as a door nail. Dead as a herring. Dead as a mutton. Dead as nits. The last breath. Paying a debt to nature. The big sleep. God’s way of saying, “Slow down.”
Bill Davis: To check out.
Patch Adams: To shuffle off this mortal coil.
Bill Davis: To head for the happy hunting ground.
Patch Adams: To blink for an exceptionally long period of time.
Bill Davis: To find oneself without breath.
Patch Adams: To be the incredible decaying man.
Bill Davis: Worm buffet.
Patch Adams: Kick the bucket.
Bill Davis: Buy the farm.
Patch Adams: Take the cab.
Bill Davis: Cash in your chips.
Therefore, the use of language in “Patch Adams” does not support the idea that America is a “death denying culture.”