In "The Use of Force," what is the conflict of the story?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In "The Use of Force" we are presented with a narrator who is a doctor who is trying to take a throat culture from a young girl because he suspects she has diphtheria. However, for some unknown reason, the girl resists his attempts in every way possible, refusing to let him take a culture from her throat. It is clear that as she continues resisting, the doctor faces two conflicts: first, his need to take the culture as part of his job, and second, his own fury and desire to overpower her:

The child's mouth was already bleeding. Her tongue was cut and she was screaming in wild hysterical shrieks. Perhaps I should have desisted and come back in an hour or more. No doubt it would have been better. But I have seen at least two children lying dead in bed of neglect in such cases, and feeling that I must get a diagnosis now or never I went at it again. But the worst of it was that I too had got beyond reason. I could have torn the child apart in my own fury and enjoyed it. It was a pleasure to attack her. My face was burning with it.

Thus we can see that in a sense, the doctor faces an external conflict in trying to do his job and take a throat culture. But at the same time he faces an internal conflict as he threatens to be overwhelmed by his own fury and desire to dominate her.

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