Is it reasonable to expect that medical treatments sometimes require the use of force?

Expert Answers
deniseha eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In “The Use of Force,” the doctor is in a difficult situation. By making it clear that the child will die if she is not treated and also stating the public health implications of untreated diphtheria, the story does justify the use of force in some situations. The readers do not really know why the child is resisting treatment and her resistance seems a bit unreasonable. The doctor admits to the reader that he should have perhaps waited and tried later. But throughout the story, the doctor demonstrates that doctors are only human.  He is captivated by the child’s movie star looks and her powerful assertion of her own body, and even admires the way she distinguishes herself from her humble parents. He sees her as a formidable opponent and abandons himself to pure feeling. When he finally gets her mouth open, he sees her as a hero who has defended some magnificent treasure. He has justified his actions in this case but also shown how people can have dignity and beauty in defending the indefensible and how caregivers are almost powerless before this heroism.