Death of a Salesman v. The Good Earth

The September 2007 Vanity Fair features an article by Suzanna Andrews about playwrite Arthur Miller and his son Daniel, who was born with Down syndrome. Shortly after birth, Miller placed Daniel in an institution, and never made contact again. The article suggests several reasons for Miller’s actions, including the fear that raising Daniel would distract him from his work.

Amy from Life According to Emma and Joe posted about this story, as did Barbara Curtis at Mommy Life.

As a counterpoint, I offer Pearl S. Buck: Pulitzer Prize for the novel (1932), Nobel Prize for Literature (1938), author of more than 70 published works, and mother to six children including Carol, a multiply-disabled daughter with the then-undiagnosed condition PKU.

And a quote from Pearl S. Buck, here:

In a mood of faith and hope my work goes on. A ream of fresh paper lies on my desk waiting for the next book. I am a writer and I take up my pen to write.

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6 thoughts on “Death of a Salesman v. The Good Earth

  1. Kyra, thank you!

    Kristen, I agree. It makes me very very sad, too. The article mentions that Miller never produced a culturally significant work after Daniel’s birth, and I think it was left to speculation, What if? What if he had taken Daniel into his life, and that his creativity was actually rekindled?

    And Karen: of course, you are right. It’s not my intention to judge, and in putting forth Pearl S. Buck, I’m lifting her onto the same pedestal Miller was on, and no one should be up there, really. We’re all human, and fallible.

  2. Everyone has their own tolerance for what they perceive as pain, or joy, or simply Life. I cannot, any longer, be judgmental of the actions of others unless I hold myself up to a similar painful and honest viewing (and even that gives me no real right for judgment, for who can truly know what’s in another’s heart and soul?). Nor do I, on the other hand, necessarily condone actions I think I will never make.

    Some things I simply must offer up as those that are part of the mysteries of life and being human.

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