The story is told in the form of an anecdote. The narrator addresses the reader in an informal way, as if confiding in a colleague. The tone is not exactly humorous, but there is a sense that the narrator, as a doctor, has an easy sense of superiority to the parents and that his story is meant, at first, to assert this superiority. This is clear from his curt question to the mother about whether she had looked at her daughter’s throat. She says simply that she tried, helpless in the face of the girls stubbornness. At this point the tone shifts: the narrator realizes that he has to examine the throat and that what is required of his “professional” training is finding a way to get this child to open her mouth. It becomes a test of wills between the two. As the girl struggles against the doctor, the tone changes to one of brutality, anger, and disgust. Although the doctor is acting in his professional capacity, his desire to subject the girl has become a kind of personal challenge. Her final capitulation, and her fury, shows that the experience, for her, has been in fact a kind of assault.