Part 2, Chapter 1 Summary
At the end of winter, a conference is held by the Shtcherbatskys about what to do concerning Kitty’s failing health. Several doctors have tried common cures, but nothing has worked. Next they call in a celebrated doctor. He insists that female modesty is no longer necessary, and he must examine the patient without her clothing. Despite disagreements among themselves and some claims that he is a bad doctor, Kitty’s family decides he has some kind of special knowledge; they believe he is the only one who can save Kitty.
After the embarrassing examination, the doctor goes to the drawing room to talk to the prince—the last person with whom he should be speaking. The prince does not have faith in physicians; moreover, he is the only one who understands the true cause of his daughter’s illness. As the doctor discusses Kitty’s symptoms, he tries to hide his contempt for the old man and to not sound condescending. Believing he is wasting his time, the physician wants to speak to Kitty's mother.
At that moment, the princess enters the room with the family doctor, and the prince gladly withdraws. She wants to know if there is hope for her daughter, but she is afraid to ask the esteemed physician quite so directly. He asks her to leave while the two doctors have a short consultation. They suspect Kitty's symptoms might indicate the onset of tuberculosis, but they cannot make a diagnosis--not enough is known about how the disease begins. All they can address is how to ensure adequate nutrition for Kitty.
The family doctor suggests that moral and spiritual issues often factor into such cases; the celebrated doctor agrees, but he keeps looking at his watch as they talk. Their dilemma is how to strengthen the girl’s nerves while making sure she eats. The family doctor suggests she take a trip abroad, an idea that is not well received. If Kitty is suffering the onset of tuberculosis, the visiting physician reminds his colleague, a foreign tour will not help her. The family doctor listens respectfully and again suggests a change of scenery to remove the...
(The entire section is 547 words.)