Archive for the ‘Critical Analysis of The Novels’ Category


I. Background

Oliver Sacks

Text Box:                     Oliver SacksThe Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat is the Neurology and Psychology book which is written by Oliver Sacks. Oliver Sacks is well known as a physician, a neurologist and the author of nine other books. He wrote the book of Awakenings which inspired the Oscar-nominated film. His most recent writing is Musicophilia:Tales of Music and the Brain which explores the power of music and its influences to the brain based on his patient experiences. Currently, he is living in New York City as a professor of Clinical Neurology at Columbia University.

The Book

Text Box:            The Book This book represents the stories of his patients who have neurological disorder. Sacks packed the case study of his patients with a fascinating and appealing language. The book is quite short and easy to read, and represents the feelings and emotions both of his patients and Sacks himself. Even though the topics are neurology and psychology, but it can be considered for readers who don’t have neurology and psychology background. It helps general readers, since it includes short postscripts which consist of the explanations of the study and specific terms in neurology. Sacks also uses the everyday language to engage general readers. Therefore this book not only can help the neurologists, psychologists, and other medical practitioners, but also general readers to enrich their understanding of wide range neurological and neuropsychiatric conditions

II. Summary

The book consists of 24 short stories that are divided into four parts which are Losses, Excesses, Transports, and The World of The Simple. Each part represents stories of people who have specific problems on brain functions which will be represented through each paragraph of this summary. The summary discusses some of the stories in detailed which represent the specific neurological disorder as the main idea of each part.

First Part: Losses. People who have loss or lack some of the functions of their brain can have several diseases or injury, such as Aphonia, Aphemia, Aphasia, Alexia, Apraxia, Agnosia, amnesia, and Ataxia (Sacks, 2007). On The Man Who Mistook His Wife for A Hat, Dr. P is a musician who had problems with his visual images. He couldn’t recognize things around him, even his face, wife, foot, shoes, etc. Therefore, he grabbed his wife’s head to put on his head, because he thought that his wife was a hat. But, he has wonderful musical intelligence, he can do his activities if he’s singing, but he would forget everything and completely stop his activities when he’s interrupted from his singing. The Lost Mariner is the story of Jimmie G, 19 years old, good looking man who was a radio operator in submarine. He can’t remember anything, except his life experiences before mid 1940’s. Therefore, he always thinks that he is 19 years old young man. But, he has excellent ability in science and math. He can compare each chemical elements and is doing well on arithmetical and algebra calculations. The Disembodied Lady is the story of 27 years young woman, who has two young children who worked as computer programming. Her life has changed, since the attack of abdominal pain. She can’t feel her body and control them. Therefore, she has to learn how to walk, move and other functions of her body. The rest of the stories have similar type of neurological disorder. For example, The Man Who Fell out of Bed is the story of a man who can’t feel his leg. He wanted to throw his leg out of bed, because he thought that his leg is the fake leg, not his own. The Hands is the story of Madeleine, 60 years old, a blind woman. She can’t do anything by her hand, because she feels that her hands are useless, inactive as “lumps of dough”. Phantoms is about the feeling of having part of body, especially limb, after it’s lost such as because of amputation. On the Level is about 93 years old man with Parkinson disease, who is walking 20 degrees which way off to the left to maintaining his balance. But, he can’t feel it, he thinks that he’s walking straight. Eyes Right! is the story of Mrs S, around 60 years old. She got a massive stroke which caused damage on her right cerebral hemisphere, so that she can’t feel her left. The last story of The President Speech presents the patients who have global aphasia. They are incapable to understand the words, so that they found Presidents’ speeches are so funny which makes them laugh and anger.

Second Part: Excesses. This second part is unusual in neurological disorder. The disorder is commonly found because of dysfunctional or lack or loss, but not excesses of the system. Witty Ticcy Ray is the story of patient, Ray, 24 years old man who has Tourette’s syndrome which is characterized by the excess of energy, great productions, motions, and notions. He has remarkable ability on music such as hitting the drum, and in various games, such as ping-pong. He is excellent on doing all those things, because he has abnormal quickness of reflect and reactions. Then when Sacks gave him the drug Haldol to treat his disorder, Ray became slow down and lost himself, so that Ray decided not to use the medicine, and let himself to live with his Tourette. The Cupid’s Disease is the story of Natasha K., 90 years old woman who fell herself becomes more energetic, alive and young. She had syphilis seventy years ago which commonly is called cupid’s disease. She chooses to stay energetic, rather than to be treated. The other patient, Miguel O., who has neurosyphilis. He has excited imagination and energy. When Dr. Sacks gave him Haldol, he became slowly down and lost his excited imagination (see figure bellow).

A Matter of Identity is the story of Mr. Thompson who can’t recognize anyone, but he can create fiction characters. In the Yes, Father-Sister, Mrs. B, a former research chemist, she is becoming funny, impulsive, and superficial. She called Dr. Sacks “father, sister, and sometimes doctor”. She knows the right and left, but she can’t differentiate it. The Possessed is the story of Sacks’s experiences on observing Touretters in the street of New York City.

Third Part: Transports. This part consists of the stories of Sacks’s patients who have imaginations, dreams, spiritualities, feelings, or other unconscious and preconscious activities which is called ‘transport or portal, or dreamy states, or reminiscence”. Reminiscence is the story of Mrs. O’C who had dream of her childhood in Ireland where she was dancing and singing. It is not simply a dream, because since then, she feels that she is living in her childhood memories. In Incontinent Nostalgia, a 63 year old woman who had Parkinson disease, since she was 18 years old. She used the drug L-Dopa to treat her Parkinson, but this drug caused the nostalgia and joyful memories of her youth life. A Passage to India is the story of Bhagawahndi P., a 19 years old Indian girl, who suffered form a malignant brain tumor. She had dreams and visions that she was in his country, India, return to her normal life as a young girl. She enjoyed her dreams and visions day to day, until the rest of her life. The Dog Beneath the Skin is the story of a 22 year medical student who had a dream that he was a dog. Since then, he can sniff like a dog. He has excellent smell ability like a dog. He could recognize every street, shop, food by smell. Murder is the story of a man who killed his girl under the influence of PCP (phenylcyclohexylpiperidine). Therefore, he didn’t remember it then. He had the irruption of psychotic fantasy. When he was conscious about it, he would regret and be angry. But, nothing he could do, because his girl was dead. The Visions of Hildegard is the story of woman who had illusion of her earliest childhood, mysticism, and spiritualism. She can imagine and create the picture of city of God and other illusive pictures.

Fourth Part: The World of The Simple. This part consists of stories of Sacks’s patients who have different forms of mind which is very simple, innocent, and transparent. Rebecca is the story of Rebecca, a 19 years old girl who loves stories, poetry, and others arts. She acted like a child in some ways, such as she couldn’t find the key of the door, couldn’t use her clothes, put the gloves into the foot and put the shoes into the hand. Her grandmother was the one who always taking care of her since her parents died. Unfortunately, her grandmother passed away, and then she became unmotivated and was losing her soul. Until, she joins the special theater group, and shows the fantastic performances. A Walking Grove is the story of Martin A, a 61 years old man who had Parkinson and Meningitis. He has amazing musical memory, such as he can remember 2000 operas. He acts and uses language like a child, and his spirit of music makes him survive. The Twins is the story of the twins, John and Michael who were 26 years old. They were well known because of their remarkable memory of documentary, algorithm, and time. They knew the content of matches in a box which is felt from the table (11 matches), but they didn’t know where 111’s coming from. Even, they can’t calculate the simplest calculations. Their world is very simple, just remembering without understanding. In The Autist Artist, the 21 years old young man has autism. People think that he is an idiot and even he can’t talk, because he has autism. But, when Dr. Sacks asked him to draw the pictures, he can draw the same pictures as shown amazingly (see picture bellow).

The right side is produced by the autist artist

III. Interpretation and Analysis

In term of content, Sacks provides interesting stories of neurological disorders of his patients which can be rich information for neurologist, psychologist, and general readers as well. He organizes the case study of his patients into four parts: Losses, Excesses, Transports, and The World of The Simple. The Losses and Excesses focus on neurological functions, the Transports relates to the hallucinations and visions, then The World of The Simple provides the stories of different forms of mind which is simple and innocent. The stories on the Losses provide the general neurological disorders which happened on Dr. Sacks’s patients. The similar patterns of patients’ behaviors and psychology help the readers to understand the concept of the dysfunction of brain. Moreover, the importance of music for human brain is also well described. Excesses is really unusual neurological disorder in which patients have excess functions of brain. It seems to be impossible, but it happened to Dr. Sacks’s patients. Some of the patients consider this disorder as the treat and the others consider as the fortune and let it with them without any treatments. On the Transports, it is really amazing that how can the dream and hallucinations change people both psychologically and physically. For example, the story of A Passage to India, Bhagawahndi P. became cheerful and joyful within her brain tumor, because she had hallucinations coming back to India in her childhood. On The World of The Simple is really amazing as well as adults can act like a child. Then they really have the amazing ability as well, such as Rebecca who could perform amazingly in theater or the twins, John and Michael, who could predict the date of the day on history. Overall, all the stories are really interesting, especially for general readers who want to broaden their knowledge.

In terms of structure and language of the book, Sacks guides the readers to understand the main idea of the different concepts of neurological disorders by organizing the stories into four main parts. He describes the incidental moment of each patients in each story, which is really engaging and empowering. As a reader, I am realizing how it is wonderful to have a normal function of brain and how’s amazing to know the brain’s working. Moreover, the book can be considered for the general readers who don’t have neurology and psychology background, because Sacks uses general and engaging language which can help the general readers to understand the stories. He also helps the readers with the postscripts which describe the background of history or further studies as well as special terms in neurology. Moreover, each of stories engages the readers to involve on the patients’ worlds as well. However, for the first part, especially the introduction of Losses could be confusing for the general readers, because he mentions Aphonia, Aphemia, and other words of neurology for the first time. But, the stories on this part make those terms clear. Moreover, different from other stories which are started by introducing the patients, the story of The Vision of Hildegard is started by the explanations of its neurological disorder with the complex language which could be confusing for general readers. But, overall, the book is amazing, not only provides interesting cases of human brain, but also encourage the readers to understand and be empathy of patient’s feelings.

IV. Implementation for Teaching and Learning

The book is definitely can be used as teaching resources on psychology, neurology, and biology subject. In chemistry, it may be related with the medicines which are used to treat the patients. For the other subjects, it can provide the readers different perspectives and contemporary knowledge of neurological disorders. For the readers who study in psychology and neurology or medical background, this book provides readers with rich information about different types of neurological disorder, its characteristics and the treatment. Some of the case studies of Sacks patients are hardly ever found in neurological field. Therefore, it will help them to deal with different problems of neurological disorder. For the teacher, it can help them to deal with students with special needs who have unique behaviour and psychology. This book will help them to understand the unusual type of students’ learning.

Moreover, the high school and university students could use this book as a reference. High school and university students could relate it with their subject in the school and university. On this level of education, students already have the prior knowledge of the human body, especially the brain’s functions. The prior knowledge is needed since it implies some of neurology and psychology terms, especially students who use English as the second language. However, it may be applied for year 7-9 students who using English as the first language, since it used everyday language to engage the readers. Overall, the book can be used as a teaching resource for teachers as well as learning resources for the students within wide ranges of subject.



The book title is The Periodic Kingdom: A Journey into the Land of The Chemical Elements. The book is part of science master book which is published in 1995, New York and consists of 194 pages. The book is short, quite easy to read, imaginative, and poetic. Even though the topic is chemical elements, but it can be considered for readers who don’t have a chemistry background.

Peter Atkins is well-known popular author in science, specially as a textbook author of Physical Chemistry. He is also a lecturer in Physical Chemistry at Oxford University and has research interests in quantum theory. In this book, Atkins brings the readers into the imaginary journey through the periodic table. He points out in this book that “the periodic table is arguably the most important concept in chemistry”. Therefore, this book provides the fundamental framework of chemical elements through imagination which can help the readers develop a meaningful understanding of both the concepts and practices.


The summary is divided into three paragraphs which represents three parts of the book: Geography, History, and Government and Institutions. These three parts complement each others to represent the kingdom of periodic table.

The concept of chemical elements, as arranges through a periodic table, is a fundamental concept in chemistry. However, the periodic table is not simply the list of chemical elements with different names and colors, but it is also the basis of every material in the world, such as water, air, plants, animals, and humans themselves. Starting the imaginative geographical journey, the periodic table is divided into different regions which represent different characteristics of elements from metal in the West to non metal in the East and inert elements at an Eastern Shoreline. Every element with their own personality contributes to the characteristics of regions in the periodic kingdom. Every region has their own products which is of crucial importance for natural and human life, for example ,Iron which can becomes steel is the foundation for most infrastructures in modern society and Phosphorus is one component of bone. However, there are few elements in the regions that have no applications and have not been explored by the nature and industry, such as Francium which is only comes in small quantities in the earth. The other reasons are human have not yet found the commercial value and radioactivity of these elements. Moreover, every region in the Kingdom not only has the differences on colors and products, but also the physical geography, such as the forms and the structure of atoms. The atoms of each element is distinguished by the diameter and mass which later on determine their characteristics on chemical reactions. This physical geography has shown connection between the location of regions and their properties.

Each element also has their own history of discovery as well as their own name. However, it is difficult to find the beginning history of discovery of many elements. Only few elements can be found in the earth in the native form, such as gold, copper, and sulfur. The advanced technology is also applied for the elements invention, for example, Humphrey Davy who invented Potassium and Sodium through electrolysis. Most of naming of elements depends on the characteristics or the recourses, such as calcium is present in lime (Latin of Lime is Calx). Some of elements have been named by the colours, such as iodine, from ioeides (violet) and by the smell, such as Bromine form bromos (stench). Most people didn’t give their own name to the elements, but few elements are named by using famous people name such as Einstenium (Albert Einstein). Currently, the name of elements is determined by the atom number through a scheme of nomenclature. The cartographers of the kingdom contribute to the arrangement of elements in the periodic table. The first cartographer, Johann Dobereiner identified a triad arrangement (three elements), where the atomic weigh of middle element was the arithmetic means of two outer elements. Then, Newlands invented the harmonies among elements in the eight steps (octaves) which is followed by Julius Lothar Meyer who found the varied periodically of atomic weight. Different from other cartographers, Dmitri Ivanovitch Mendeleev explored the elements from their chemical properties. Finally, the map of modern kingdom is arranged by the atomic weight which contributes to the number of proton, neutron, and electron. The arrangement of elements by atomic weigh also related to their chemical properties.

The government and institutions of the kingdom have the laws both interior and exterior. The laws of the interior consist of the rules for governing the structure of atoms which contribute to their properties. The inventions during the late nineteenth and twentieth century have greatly impacted on the internal structure of atoms which are based on quantum theory. Rutherford with his fundamental experiment, found the theory of nuclear atom. The atom consists of single and massive positive charge which is a nuclear and surroundings by the electrons. His student, Moseley succeeded to count this positive charge which is determined as the atomic number. Later on, based on this model, He found that this positively charge of particles also determined the proton of element. Each nucleus also consists of the number neutron which related to the mass of atom. This invention of atomic particles contributes to the properties of elements. The laws of exteriors govern the surrounding electrons which chemical reactions of elements rely on. The rules provide the information of possibility and the distribution of electron positions. In order to achieve a stable condition, electron involves a chemical reactions. Atoms of each element are held together through chemical bonding to create compounds. The principle of chemical bonds is determined by the characteristic of atom both interior (nucleus) and exterior (electron configuration).

In conclusion, each chemical element contributes to the characteristics of every region in the kingdom. Many scientists put a great effort into exploring the characteristics of chemical elements from different perspectives and experiments. Every element provides its own product, and is held together with other elements to create chemical compounds of all material in the world.

Interpretation and Analysis

Peter Atkins provides the essential concept in chemical elements through imaginative journey and poetic language which are really engaging. The idea of representing chemical elements in periodic table as a kingdom which are related each others is really interesting. Readers who used to read Peter Atkins Textbook, especially in Physical Chemistry, can be excited by is unique representations of chemistry in this book. Even though, Atkins pointed out that he provided the journey of periodic table for the readers who don’t have chemistry background, it needs chemistry knowledge to engage in the journey, especially for readers who have English as second language.

Atkins organizes the journey through three big parts: Geography, History, and Government and Institutions. Geography as part one consists of three chapters: the terrain, the products of regions, and physical geography. In this part, he explores the characteristics and uses of each element in every region. Chemical elements with their own characteristic from metal, non metal, transitions, and inert elements provide different landscape in the kingdom. The journey stimulates readers to imagine geography of elements by giving the rich descriptions of each region from West to East, from North to South. In this part, he assists readers to realize the importance of rules of chemical elements in every materials, natural process, and living organisms, especially human life. He used everyday language to describe the chemical elements and try to use simple descriptions of their physical geography. The second part (History) is divided into four chapters: the history of discovery, the naming of the regions, the origin of the land, and the cartographers. He used more in depth language to describe the history of the discovery the elements as well as the process of cartography. The rich information of discovery naming, and cartographers are given from Humphrey Davy to Ramsay, from simple nomenclature into IUPAC, from Dobereiner to Mendeleev. Readers with a background in chemistry will find a simple, interesting and imaginative way of presenting complex and rich information. For readers without a chemistry background, the authors provide the opportunity to use the depth of their imagination to make sense of it.

The last part (Government and Institutions) is divided into four chapters: the laws of the interior, the laws of the exterior, regional administration, and liaisons and alliances. He provides deeper information on the properties of chemical elements, the structural atom, quantum mechanics, the laws of electrons, the compounds, and the chemical bonding. These basic principles provide really valuable information and critical reflections for readers on understanding of chemistry concepts. Overall, Atkins provides integration information of basic concepts in chemistry in each part which helps readers to engage with his imaginative journey through poetic languages.

Implementation for Teaching and Learning Chemistry in Indonesia Context

In Indonesia, using this book as one of reading reference is really challenging, not only because of The language, but also the rigid curriculum that teachers and students have to deal with. However, the different approach of this book, by using poetic language and imaginary thinking, is really engaging. Mostly teachers and students heavily depend on chemistry textbooks as learning resources which provide similar patterns of information. Therefore, engaging students through reading this book could create meaningful learning experiences for students.

However, the level of using this book need to be considered for students, even though there is a new curriculum framework for chemistry that is starting to be taught in junior high school level (grade 7-9), it will be confusing for them rather than engaging. For high school students, this book will be useful for rich information of their chemistry knowledge which is really related to the curriculum. This table bellow shows the implementation of using Atkins book within chemistry teaching.

Table 1. Chemistry Curriculum for High School in Indonesia and it’s related with Peter Atkin’s Book



Sub Topic

Atkin’s Book (The Periodic Kingdom)


· Nomenclature

· The Structure of Atom, (Part One)

· Characteristics periodic atoms,

· Chemical bonding

· The Bohr model, etc

· Electron configurations

· Periodic tables

· Chemical bonding process (ion, covalent, etc.)

· Part one: the terrain, physical geography

· Part two: the naming of regions, the cartographers

· Part three: the laws of interior, liaisons and alliances


· The Structure of Atom (Part two)

· Periodic atoms

· Structure of molecules

· Quantum mechanics and periodic tables

· Hybridizations electrons

· Molecules bonding

Part three: the laws of exterior, regional administrations liaisons and alliances


Sources, characteristics and products of chemical elements

· Resources of chemical elements in the nature

· Physical and chemical properties of chemical elements

· The products of chemical elements (the uses and dangerous) in every day life

· Part one: The Terrain, the product of the regions

· Part two: the history of discovery

Source: Curriculum Centre, Department of National Education, 2008

For engaging students by using this book as a resource, teacher can use this tool bellow:

Example of Teaching Tool: Cross and Down Game






















  1. The main chemical element in DNA protein
  2. The number of elements arrangement using analogy of music by Newlands (latin)
  3. The scientist who found the nuclear atom (surname)
  4. The element which discovered by making use of distant nuclear fire, the sun
  5. The main elements in the Western Deserts
  6. The German Chemist who examined the correlation between the physical properties and atomic weight (surname)
  7. One of the triads elements which is arranged by Dobereiner
  8. Called for the elements which are not chemically active in coastal deserts of Kingdom
  9. The Australian Physics who enunciated the exclusion principle of electron orbital
  10. The metal element which is crucial importance to lift humanity from stone age to industrial revolution


  1. 25% of gases in the atmosphere
  2. The chemical compound for refrigerants which can deplete the ozone layer
  3. The very first element to be formed
  4. The scientist who found Potassium and Sodium
  5. The element is named because of the colour, green shout (Greek)
  6. One advance technology to discover the chemical elements
  7. The chemical bond which is an interaction between the ions that atom form
  8. A positively charged particle in atomic nucleus
  9. Vertical columns in periodic table
  10. The first enabling technology which drove compounds apart in ways.

Moreover, this book will be more essential for university students, especially for chemistry students in general and inorganic chemistry course. The basic concepts in this book will help the students develop a higher level of thinking in chemistry. Moreover, this book is a valuable and interesting chemistry reference which can engage and motivate students for learning chemistry. However, teachers, especially in Indonesia should use a creative approach in dealing with challenges of using this book as a teaching resource.


Curriculum Centre, Department of National Education. 2008. Chemistry Curriculum for Secondary High School Retrieved 10/08/2008.