The Way We Live Now
This short story was written by Susan Sontag. It was published in the New Yorker in 1986. The story is narrated through dialogue and through forms of conversation. It tells us a story of an unnamed who is struggling with the AIDS. The story entirely describes the reactions of patient’s friends, not the central character.
Sontag’s friend had been diagnosed with AIDS. That was her inspiration for the story. The Way We Live Now was written and published at the time when AIDS had a great impact on the American society. It accurately represents the spirit of that time. The characters are faced with the presence of death in their society. They are analyzing their own perspective about mortality and morality.
SUMMARY-The Way We Live Now-Susan Sontag
The story is consisted of a series of conversations, friends who are sharing information and expressing care about their friend, an unnamed character who is showing symptoms of AIDS. They are discussing the panic that has spread among their friends no matter if they are gay, straight or bisexual.
The friends decide to visit their friend in hospital. He has been diagnosed with AIDS. They decide to keep his spirit up and to comfort him. His friends are visiting him repeatedly. One of the friends admits she is feeling awkward and scared about seeing him.
The friends notice that he is feeling down. They are discussing the diary he started to write with him trying to make him think of his future. They discuss the side effects of his medications and mentioning one of their jokes: ˝We are all side effects.˝ Also they are commenting to him how his illness has changed their lives and relationships to one another.
The man recovers enough to come back home. His former lover and close friend intend to take care of him. The friends are concerned about his mental state of mind and are talking about the new experimental treatment. Some of the friends suggest the alternatives to traditional medicine. The man accepts the protocol for a new medication. His friends believe that he is feeling much better because he is saying the word AIDS easily and often.
They are comparing the conditions of living with the disease few years earlier and now. Before, there was more hysteria and prejudice. One of the friends says that they have formed a ˝utopia of friendship˝ around the sick man and that is beautiful. They start discussing the man’s different responses to various visitors.