Type: Analysis
Pages: 2 | Words: 591
Reading Time: 3 Minutes

William Carlos William wrote “The Use of Force†in 1938 about a doctor who goes to attend an ill child who refuses to be diagnosed. The doctor is forced to take aggressive actions which question his professional boundaries and bedside manners. The story came out in the time of Great Depression and implicitly raises questions about the financial conditions of the family and the doctor and how their socio-economic make-up at the time had influence over their actions as set in the scene described in the short story.

The story surrounds a doctor’s visit to a family’s home to attend to their ill child who is an unusually attractive girl. The parents fear the child may have diphtheria. The child refuses to be diagnosed, however, which raises concerns for the parents as well as the doctor visiting. The doctor is instantly drawn to the child through the constant resistance she shows him. He, on the other hand, is persistent in his attempts to get through to the child. The doctor, upon several failed attempts, loses patient as well as his ethical code of conduct. The struggle he undergoes with the child in order to get his job done soon becomes a quest to satisfy his ego. The doctor sees the child as a conquest he is to accomplish and enjoys attacking the child.

The short story sets forth some disturbing elements that question the sanity of the doctor, where his behaviour in the later part of the story is simply irrational. This behavioral pattern questions the factors that influence him to act this way. The doctor charged $3 for the visit and came to the household immediately upon being summoned. This shows he was available and eager this handsome rate of pay for his services. This further shows that he belongs to the working class and shows he was under financial pressures. The pay was good but there were not many patients who were seriously ill enough to pay for the cost of his services in the time when there were no jobs in the market and no steady job to pay the rents. Earning this income was one thing for the doctor but he needed to continue his practice. The way he attack the child shows his ego overpowered him. He wants to succeed in this job desperately so that he can restore his ego which he seemed to have lost while not being given plenty of jobs in the recent past.

The parents, on the other hand, watching the display of irrational behaviour, stand voiceless which questions their take and background in the situation affecting their decision making. The writer establishes their socio-economic make up to be of a working class family. Normally, in the time of Great Depression a working class family would not be able to afford to pay $3 for a doctor’s visit and call a doctor unless for an emergency. They were short of money but they were gravely concerned for their daughter. They placed their concerns for their daughter’s wellbeing over their financial concerns. However, on the other hand, it is important to note that the parents were not only looking for a diagnosis. They were actually looking for reassurance to relieve them of the forthcoming financial burden associated with the cure of Diphtheria. The doctor was their means to the reassurance and they chose to stay in silence to examine the situation closely and wait for the response of the doctor regarding their doctor. It was important for them to know for sure what is expected.

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