The Use of Force, A Story of Guilt
"The Use of Force" by William Carlos Williams is a window into one doctor's guilt over the negligent loss of a child patient. This story focuses on the disillusionment caused by his self-pity and guilt. The doctor's guilt triggers a fanciful illusion of "The Use of Force" that gives him giddy delight in his envisioned torture of the young, beautiful girl. His disgust for her uneducated, immigrant parents and their poor, humble surroundings only heighten this image. But his justification of these imagined actions empowers him all the more. He perceives himself above these less than human creatures, as a master lords over his good for nothing dog. In his self-empowered greatness he comes face to face with the greatest flaw any doctor can have, lack of humanity and compassion for those lesser then himself.
During the first 20 paragraphs, Williams is simply recalling the events as they had taken place. Never revealing the death of the child. We are led to believe that the child never dies, but Williams gives us clues into her death when he states in paragraph 31, "I have seen at least two children lying dead in bed of neglect." His guilt of how he handled the situation plunges his imagination down a dark, immoral path. The pivotal point between reality and his vivid imagination becomes clear when he states, "I explained the danger but said that I would not insist on the throat examination so long as they (her parents) would take the responsibility." This is where his imagination takes over. Instantly, his adoration and love for the young girl turns to utter loathing. He goes on to describe her as a "savage brat."
In his dream state, Williams feels such urgency to diagnose the girl, and save her from herself. With fire in his blood he states, "The damned little brat must be protected against her own idiocy" The guilt he feels in reality heightens this urgency to save her. His descriptions of the girl also add to the tone of this illusion when he describes her motions as "catlike" and instinctive as she "clawed instinctively for my (Williams) eyes"
Williams describes his distaste for the immigrant family. "I ground my teeth in disgust"...