The Use of Force
"The Use of Force" is a short story by the American author William Carlos Williams first published 1938. The story is narrated in first person by a doctor, who is answering a house visit to see a sick girl. Fearing that she may have diphtheria, the doctor decides to check her throat. However, she refuses to open her mouth and the doctor uses force to restrain her and examine her throat with a spoon, which makes the girl very mad. The doctor finds that, against her own self-interest, the girl has hidden the symptoms of diphtheria from her parents and the doctor. The story is written without the use of quotation marks, and the dialogue is not distinguished from the narrator's comments. The story is rendered from the subjective point of view of the doctor, and explores his subdued enjoyment of forcefully subduing the stubborn child in an attempt to acquire the throat sample. The overall theme of the story revolves around power and submission and the doctor's unnerved feeling following the forceful encounter. The use of force
They were new patients to me, all I had was the name, Olson. Please come down as soon as you can, my daughter is very sick. When I arrived I was met by the mother, a big startled looking woman, very clean and apologetic who merely said, Is this the doctor? and let me in. In the back, she added. You must excuse us, doctor, we have her in the kitchen where it is warm. It is very damp here sometimes. The child was fully dressed and sitting on her father's lap near the kitchen table. He tried to get up, but I motioned for him not to bother, took off my overcoat and started to look things over. I could see that they were all very nervous, eyeing me up and down distrustfully. As often, in such cases, they weren't telling me more than they had to, it was up to me to tell them; that's why they were spending three dollars on me. The child was fairly eating me up with her cold, steady eyes, and no expression to her face whatever. She...
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