Do the little girl's parents trust the doctor in "The Use of Force"? If so why do they trust him? Do they have a reason to trust him? Should they trust him? Why or why not?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

No, the girl’s parents should not trust the doctor because he has no business being anywhere near their child.  They trust him because they fear for their daughter’s life.

The story demonstrates a battle of wills between a little girl and a doctor.  The doctor does not have good people skills.

The little girl’s parents do not trust the doctor.  They know they need a doctor, but the doctor can tell immediately that although they realize they need a doctor and are paying for one, that does not mean that they trust him.  They are worried about their child and extremely anxious.

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 seems to trust the doctor even less, not seeming to want to look at him, answer him, or open her mouth when asked.

The doctor sees the parents and the child as inferior it seems.  He has little respect for them and even less for the girl.  As the battle of wills goes on, he seems to care nothing for his patient and gets more and more worked up, which she can surely tell.  He believes she is being unreasonable, when he is the one who is being unreasonable.  It is not until things have reached a level of near absurdity that he realizes he has lost control.

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.

The doctor uses cases of diphtheria he has seen as an excuse for his behavior.  If so, he seems to have gone made because of it.  He has lost all reason himself, at the possibility of not being able to diagnose this girl.  He sees himself as the last line of defense, protecting society from her.  He is vindicated when she turns out to have been sick.

This story is a sickening example of the authority doctors have over patients, and the terrible consequences of violating that trust.  The doctor acts unforgivably, essentially assaulting his patient under the guise of examining her.  Her parents allow it, despite their instinctive understanding that things are not right, because they are desperate.  They are worried their daughter is dying.  It is likely that this doctor has a reputation in the community.  Considering his behavior toward the girl, especially his reaction to the words “hurt” and “nice man,” which seem like red flags, chances are rumors or actual allegations of improper behavior toward patients have been lodged against him.  However, the community is in actual crisis, so he gets away with it.  Even if there have not been allegations or instances yet, there will be.  In his heart, he knows what he does is wrong.  This man is a predator.

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The Use of Force

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