When reading The Year of the Flood Toby assisting Pillar killed herself stuck out to me. In years preceding the publication of Atwood’s novel there were many cases of assisted suicide in Canada. I found many of the cases and facts on the Canadian Parliament website, but decided to focus on one. The case I chose was that of an ailing playwright, Charles Fariala, who asked his mother to aid him in ending his life. Fariala summoned his mother to his home, took an excessive amount of pills and once he fell asleep asked his mother to smother him. Marielle Houle’s attorney pleaded that she was doing this out of unconditional love for her son that couldn’t take his symptoms of multiple sclerosis.
In the novel, Pillar decides to end her life so she wouldn’t have to suffer and allow for her not to be a burden to the Gardener’s society. Toby was caught in a predicament. Should she disobey dying Pillar? Or should Toby do what she thinks is right, which is not assisting Pillar kill herself. Houle must have felt what Toby felt. Both of the individuals that asked them to help them, they cared for. They didn’t want to see the people they cared for in pain. This is a very difficult situation to be in. I hope to never be put in a situation like this. It makes you think what you would do if ever in this situation. Would you see the wrong in helping them end their life? Would you assist because you care for them?
Forgive me for choosing a touchy and quite somber topic. It just was interesting to see it in a novel. I had never seen it done before.