Friday, November 26, 2010

Here Is Your Mother

Ian Ayres

Crosspost from Freakonomics:

In a previous post, I asked why the writers of the TV show House chose for last week’s episode (“A Pox on our House”) to have a sick family composed of a recently married husband and wife who each bring to the marriage a child from a previous relationship.

I think the writers were setting up a parallel with the episode’s opening. In the opening, which is set in the past on a slave ship, some African captives who have contracted an infectious disease are about to be thrown overboard. A sick father, who is about to be killed, turns to his healthy son, and says, pointing to another adult: “Naola is now your father.”

This heart-rending ship scene foreshadows what happens later in the episode (and 200 years later in the narrative’s chronology), when a dying father tells his biological son that the son’s new stepmother will take care of him. Metaphorically, the father is also saying to his boy that another adult is now your parent.

I imagine that both events are supposed to remind us of John 19:26-27, where Jesus from the cross says to his mother:

“Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.”

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