The Escalation of Hysteria in The Fever (The Vaccine "The…
The Escalation of
"We're in it together" (Abbott:4) :
"Her hands flying up, she grabbed her throat, her body jolting to one side" (Abbott:7)
Lise is the first of the girls to show symptoms of the mysterious fever. Her seizure in class causes panic amongst the school and her hospitalisation is what begins the speculation about the fever.
"There was a film over her eyes...her neck seemed to jolt back with such force he expected to here a pop" (Abbott:71)
Gabby is the second of the girls who experiences symptoms of the fever. Her behaviour is similar to Lise's in that she takes a seizure. However her recovery is much quicker, as she can talk a few minutes after the attack. The second attack in the school, Gabby causes a greater speculation that the fever is spreading.
"I'm next, Deenie thinks,
a few minutes and it'll be me"
Although Deenie does not display symptoms of the fever, she does contribute to the hysteria in the novel through a hidden secret. She and the girls swam in the murky lake by Deenie's house before the other girls got sick. The thought of this haunts her and the other girls throughout the novel.
"Lately, Skye was always around, that web of hair, her long mantis sleeves" (Abbott:21)
Like Deenie, Skye doesn't show symptoms of the fever in the novel. However she remains an unsettling character throughout the novel who appears to be putting the blame on to those around her. Ironically it is Skye who has the power to end all speculation and growing hysteria. Yet she remains silent, as it is her who has poisoned her alleged friends causing the fever.
"She'd seen two guys in the water...one had a tattoo that began on his chest and disappeared beneath his jeans" (Abbott:100)
"After one of those times sneaking a girl out of his room, Eli had gotten caught,sort of" (Abbott:9)
Eli is Deenie's older brother. Known as the school hockey star, Eli is subject to a lot of attention from girls at his school. Eli's popularity and reputation with girls contributes to him being the fulcrum for the entire trauma. Due to speculation that he had sexual relations with Lise right before her seizure.
"Someone at school saying he saw his sister getting into the car with some guy" (Abbott:139).
Sean works with Deenie at a nearby pizza takeaway. At the beginning of the novel he takes Deenie's virginity, which remains a secret to the other girls throughout the novel. Also a star hockey player at a rival school, Sean is often mistaken for Eli. His mistaken identity is what drives hysteria amongst the girls into overdrive. As they mistakenly believed Sean to be Eli when they saw him having sex with Lise. This leads to misplaced jealousy and ultimately the poisoning of Lise.
"The pitchy clamor of nervous parents finding other nervous parents to be even more nervous together" (Abbott:202)
"It's going to be ok," he said. The eternal parental lie, a hustle" (Abbott:44)
Tom is Deenie and Eli's dad and also a chemistry teacher at the school. The Nash family are close knit. However when symptoms of the fever first begin to appear, Tom's seeming stability as a parent is thrown in to chaos. Whilst he shows a calm exterior, his internal thoughts display signs of hysteria. As he fears he does not understand his daughter as much as he thought.
"They want us to believe they're helping our girls. They're killing our girls. It's a kind of murder" (Abbott:95)
Shelia is Lise's mother, who quickly becomes unhinged when doctors cannot explain her daughters illness. She causes hysteria amongst the other parents when she speculates the vaccines which all the girls have received are poisonous.
"Lara's eyes darted around the room. In seconds she was kneeling over Gabby's laundry hamper, rustling through the clothes" (Abbott:50)
Lara is Gabby's mother. She immediately pulls Gabby out of school after her seizure due to the panic surrounding her daughter. She adds to the hysteria by blaming herself and other parents on what has happened. She believes as a parent she is constantly putting her daughter at risk unintentionally by the things that she says and does.
"The human papillomavirus can infect you anywhere," Ms. Dyer, the health teacher, announced before the first round of shots in September" (Abbott:115)
This is one instance which we hear of the vaccine in the novel, which all the girls received at at school. The vaccine is one of many speculations within the novel that caused the girls to have seizures. We later learn the fever was not attributed to the vaccine.
The media's representation of the vaccine
"mother of the first afflicted girl, who is still waiting for answers, especially about a controversial new vaccination that has many parents nationwide crying foul" (Abbott:107)
The media in the novel play a key role in driving the hysteria surrounding the fever forward. Their engaging headlines attempted to give parents in the novel an answer to their children's illness. This proved successful as many parents believed their daughters had been poisoned by the vaccine and the fever was a result of this.
The real hysteria
was based on the real hysteria surrounding the 2011 controversy amongst several school girls in New York. As a mysterious illness was sweeping through a school in the town of Le Roy.