Monday, August 16, 2010

"The Use of Force." William Carlos Williams.

Review: A doctor encounters a new family. Mother, father and child. The child, a little girl, has had a fever for three days and is determined she will not open her mouth for any reason. She hates the doctor, the narrator, at first sight.

She openly resists the doctor’s getting her to open her mouth so he can take a culture to find out if she has diphtheria. He tries to get a wooden tongue depressor into her mouth. She splinters it with her teeth. Next, the doctor tries jamming a metal spoon between her teeth. She puts up an insane, irrational, very physical struggle, but eventually he gets a good look into her mouth. The problem is tonsils.

Now that the doctor has succeeded in diagnosing the problem, she tries to tear herself from her father’s lap to really attack the doctor, “while tears of defeat blinded her eyes.”

Rating of this short story: **** out of *****.

Short Story Masterpieces. Ed. RP Warren and A Erskine. New York: Dell Books. 1954.

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