J.M. Coetzee the author of Slow Man a 2005 publication presents a literal masterpiece novel of a man who is grappling with the misfortunes in his life after losing his leg in a road accident. The title Slow Man, depicts Paul Rayment a 60 year old Australian man. Paul had been hit by a car while in his bicycle and thus his leg had to be amputated. Paul in depression retires to his Adelaide farm where he goes through the motions of depression and psychological effects after the amputation. The novel takes us through how Paul, who was at the threshold of enjoying a comfortable life, now, finds himself in this awkward situation where his body is truncated and his life is constrained.
The first psychological effect that Paul has to go through is the humiliation that he now tends to feel. Losing part of his body at such an age proved to be very traumatic to Paul. Paul stubbornly refused prosthesis and opted to return to his Adelaide farm feeling uncomfortable with his sorry state of affairs in which he had to depend on others. The amputation on his leg gave him a feeling of hopelessness as his mind took a transverse through the earlier years of his highly productive life. Psychologists have often argued that the immediate repercussions of suffering any amputation include a sense of helplessness as the individual tries to grapple with the reality of losing an important functional part of the body. Various psychologists have attributed this feeling of helplessness with the patients’ mentality where they feel as if they will never be able to walk again in cases whereby the limbs are amputated (Carroll and Edelstein, 2006).
The amputation of his leg leaves him with an awkward feeling. The psychological effects seem to be taking effects on Paul’s mentality and he even seems to hate the stump that was his leg. He pegs the name “water melon” or a “cured ham” to it. Paul’s rejection of prosthesis shows how the amputation has taken over his perception of life after the amputation. He feels that it will never be the same again and events such as “striding black hill” or even “peddling to the market to do shopping” will be just a thing of the past. The amputation of his leg leaves him in a state of mind where he remembers the past events of his life when he had a limb and this makes his situation even worse.
Paul was no exception to the psychological effects that patients had to go through after an amputation. Paul’s reaction when he is the hospital is that he kept convincing himself that he “is not the first person” to go through what he is going through. He also tries to convince himself although he is old he is one among many who find themselves in “well intentioned but ultimately indifferent young people going through the motions of caring for him” situation (Coetzee, 2005). Paul hires a nurse by the name of Marijana to take care of him. The efficient nurse tactfully administers to all his needs and Paul starts feeling something for her and thus starts recovering from his hopelessness. His feelings are however complicated by the arrival of an Australian novelist by the name Elizabeth Costello. The novelist threatens to change the direction of Paul’s life and affairs of his heart as well. This leaves Paul in a worse psychological situation that he was recovering from.
However, not all the psychological effects’ after Paul suffered the amputation can be said to be negative. Paul in one way or another seems to find a way through it and after his experiences with the Australian author he now shifts from the negative thinking to a more positive one. He starts contemplating on how to fashion his life in a better way while still grappling with his search for a place in the universe.