Sickness and the concept of Ailments play quite a large role in Olga Tokarczuk’s Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead. As I began to explore the many thematic statements made in the novel, I stumbled upon ideas such as the impact of military/police on society, growing up, and memory. However, the topic of sickness stuck out most to me and I became excited to share about this topic in class. Unfortunately, my group ran out of time so I will reflect on the topic in this blog post. The passage below does a very nice job summarizing Janina’s perspective on sickness, Ailments, and their impact on an individual in society.
“It occurred to me that he was a very good Person, this Boros. And it was a good thing he had his Ailments. Being healthy is an insecure state and does not bode well. It’s better to be ill in a quiet way, then at least we know what we’re going to die of.” [Page 167]
At the start of the novel, Janina finds her Ailments to be troubling and becomes increasingly embarrassed of her supposed condition. This passage directly depicts her new profound perspective of sickness — and how it isn’t such a bad thing. Janina is able to bond with Boros over his shared tendencies and she realizes that their shared “condition” serving as a point of connection.
In my opinion, Janina views sickness as a way to differetarent yourself from other members of society. She also believes that being fully “healthy” does not allow you to feel uncomfortable — something necessary to advance as members of society. Janina has been able to experience growth because of her illness. Now my question for you, what does sickness/Ailments reveal about the characters that make up Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead?