The Use of Force
A physician is summoned to make a housecall on a family with who he has had no prior contact. He quickly sizes up the situation: the household is poor but clean; the patient is a female child whose parents are nervously concerned, dependent on, yet skeptical of the doctor. The child's beauty and piercing stare make an immediate impression on him.
Concerned that diphtheria may be the cause of illness, he uses his customary professional manner to determine whether or not the child has a sore throat. But the child will have none of it and "clawed instinctively for my eyes."(Williams 17) The attempt at an examination rapidly escalates into a physical "battle" as the physician, convinced that it is crucial to see the child's throat "and feeling that I must get a diagnosis now or never," (Williams 29) becomes ever more enraged and forceful while the girl continues to resist with all her strength, and the parents are in an agony of fear for her health and embarrassment over her behavior. This is no longer a professional encounter. The doctor admits at the beginning of the struggle to having "fallen in love with the savage brat" (Williams 22) and recognizes that he is behaving irrationally. The closing sequence could as easily be depicting a rape as a forced throat examination.
How ever the story may be depicted, it is, on occasion, necessary to use some sort of force. The doctor feels uneasy about the pleasure he took in using force on the child, but in the end it is what had to be done; not collecting the throat culture could have led to a more threatening condition for the child. The child’s stubborn attitude evokes a lot of anger out of the doctor; he is summoned to the house to assist and help the little girl but she refuses to cooperate with the doctors demands. The parents are of little help to the doctor, as they just step aside and leave the doctor to fend for himself against the bull-headed...
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