So here we reach the end of From Here to Eternity. Doughty finishes off the book with some of her thoughts, so I’ll do the same with mine.
Did this book change my views on death? I think it did. Am I comfortable with death now? I don’t really know if anyone can be, if they’re honest with themselves. Death is scary, and I don’t think it will ever stop being scary. But with scary things, we can either avoid them and plug our ears, or we can face what makes us uncomfortable. Everyone dies eventually, and we can’t avoid facing death forever.
Really though, From Here to Eternity forces the reader to face not only death, but ways of dealing with death that may seem strange or grotesque. But while the book was simply morbidly fascinating at first, it soon became an incredibly insightful look at a woman taking a look at her own mortality. And it forced me to look at my own mortality. Which is uncomfortable but I think it’s healthy.
So, do I recommend this book to others? Absolutely. The descriptions of death and corpses aren’t any more graphic than necessary. Doughty has found that sweet spot between portraying death in its real form and exploitative shock value. If I could describe this book in just a few words, I’d say it’s thoughtful, intimate, and loving. I feel that I’m in some small way a better person after I gave this book a good hard read. It made me consider things that it’s more comfortable to just ignore. More than anything, it reminds me of something a high school literature teacher said. She said that we have sterilized death to the point that we don’t know how to deal with it anymore. We ignore death until we allow it to blindside us. We can still fear death, we can still be uncomfortable with death, but hopefully anyone that reads From Here to Eternity can at least look death in the eye and acknowledge it.