Nick Hornby's novel How to Be Good, tells the story of Katie and David Carr, two Londoners blessed with most of the good things in life who are nevertheless committed to making the world a better place for the less fortunate. David, a columnist who is bitter and sarcastic, is described by Katie as "the definition of aggrieved. Permanently (5)." Katie, from David's perspective, is a woman who fails to "care how I am (4)" and whose energies are directed at making the world better for everyone but him. For these two middle-aged, married individuals, "being good means very different things. Katie's understanding of this human obligation, and the changes she experiences as she recalls her life with David and together they move to the future, will serve as the focus of this report.
Katie knows herself as "not a bad person," as a doctor seeking to do "Good" who finds herself married to a man whose anger had spoiled their marriage and led her to commit adultery in what seems to be self-defense (8). Though she has begun an extramarital love affair with Stephen, she only contemplates divorcing her husband as a last resort û a defense against the unremitting anger and bitterness that this failed novelist exhibits at every turn.
Katie, like many other well-educated, relatively affluent professionals of her era, believes that she has obligations to others who have not enjoyed her success. She concerns herself with her patients, with her children, with her father, and with all the disadvantaged peoples who move through her world. Having become a physician, she seems to believe that she has adopted a career that is the essence of "doing good" for others; she also recognizes that her choice of profession has been lucrative and, incidentally, made it possible for hr husband to dabble in writing rather than support the family on his own.
For Katie, David's illness (a tumor) seems initially to be an opportunity for restructuring ...