Approximate Size of My Favorite Tumor

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Elles 1 Kimberley Elles Instructor Lloyd Dubois English 100-S03 October 12, 2012 Laughing Death in the Face: A Coping Mechanism in Sherman Alexie’s “Approximate Size of My Favorite Tumor” Could you laugh death in the face? Would you live like you were dying if you were actually dying? In “The Approximate Size of My Favorite Tumor,” Sherman Alexie tells how one man tries to use humor to cope and questionably, denies the reality of his terminal illness, while he laughs death in the face. He demonstrates how humor can be taken to the extreme, and voluntarily or involuntarily destroys one part of Jimmy’s life. This destruction occurs when the result of Jimmy’s humor is that his wife, Norma, leaves him for a short while to suffer alone. She eventually returns to aide Jimmy in his final days. Humor also helps him to cope with the other obvious entity in his life which is his cancerous tumor. His use of humor blankets the urgency of his cancer and brushes the issue it under the rug, so to speak. The main character, Jimmy Many Horses has been diagnosed with cancer, and knows he is going to die. He uses humor as a way of dealing with his disease which ends up having the opposite effect with his wife Norma. His ability to laugh and joke about his situation does not impress Norman. She actually goes as far as threatening to leave Jimmy, by telling him, “If you say anything funny ever again, I’m going to leave you” (3). Jimmy does not give up his healing Elles 2 humor and Norma stays true to her word, leaving him to deal with his tumors with his humor alone. Norma does not see how Jimmy’s humor “saved Norma and me [him] from pain” (6). “Humor [is] an antiseptic that [cleans] the deepest of personal wounds,” in many people’s lives (pg 6). Laughter is often referred to as the best medicine, and is one of the strongest healing tools an individual can utilize. We
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