13 September 2011
Analysis of “The Use of Force”
Williams Carlos Williams applies both internal and external conflict to his short story,” The Use of Force.” The narrator struggles with how he should help cure an ill but stubborn child. Is he acting forceful because he is trying to help the patient, or is he actually enjoying being malicious towards her?
To make a short story even shorter, this story is about a doctor who was called by a sick child’s parents to come diagnose the young girl. Throughout the story the little girl refuses to let the doctor come anywhere close to examining her. No matter how much the parents try to calm the child down, they seem to make the situation even worse. At the time, diphelria was making its way around the town’s elementary school. He had already seen two children die of disease due to neglect, so time is of the essence. As soon as the doctor mentions that he needs to look at her throat, she begins to throw a massive tantrum. Eventually the doctor is able to take a look inside the girl’s throat. It turns out her throat had been sore for three days, and she was dreading how she would be treated for that particular illness.
The main theme in this story would be conflict, both internal and external. Between the parents, child, and doctor, they all use those forms of conflict. At the beginning of the story, when the child first starts to act up, external conflict is introduced. She begins to kick, scream, and attempts to claw at the doctor’s eyes. She could be acting this way for a couple of reasons. The girl could be acting stubborn because she is mad at her parents for calling the doctor, or she could just be scared of how the doctor will treat her diagnosis. By being resistant, the child is thinking that throwing a fit will get her out of seeing the doctor. The parents try to help the situation by acting calm and sweet, they make a mistake when they tell the little girl, “He’s not going to hurt you.” The doctor gets aggravated as soon as they say that. By using the word “hurt,” the doctor might be thinking that is the one word the child heard. This could be foreshadowing that the child will become even more difficult to handle. Making her even more scared and difficult to work with. That is another example of external conflict. At first the doctor is trying to be cooperative, because he’s trying to do his job and help the young girl. After awhile he starts to enjoy being mean to her. Maybe he is thinking this way, because he wants to get some sort of revenge for the little girl behaving the way she was. Maybe he could just be acting this way, because he’s got some sort of an evil side to him. Personally, I think he’s just enjoying being rude to her, because she is being rude to him. Those are examples of internal conflicts the doctor experiences. The turning point of the story is when the doctor started to act mean towards the little girl, and thinking to himself how he enjoyed it. The little girl knocking his glasses off and trying to claw at his eyes was probably the final straw for him. All he was trying to do was help her, and all she was doing was making it even more difficult. In my opinion I believe she was the reason he began to enjoy acting mean towards her, so his thoughts could have been and probably were a normal thought of someone who was trying to do their job, and just got stuck with a difficult patient.
The ending of the story shows that the little girl had been dealing with her own sort of internal conflict. She had a sore throat for three days, but refused to say anything about it hurting. That is way she behaved so horribly towards the doctor and her parents. Deep down she knew that the cure for her sore throat would not be all that pleasant. Her actions were what made the story so interesting, and gave the doctor an excuse to use force trying to cure her. The time and place somewhat matter in this story. At...