Franz Kafka’s, “A country doctor” is a story that narrates the experiences and challenges a country doctor faces as he tries to carry out his duties as the doctor. He goes through various obstacles which he has no solution to, but has to face them just as they are. He clings to the idea of being a helper, wards of resignation, is ready to sacrifice his private life for his professional ethics and is forced in the cruelest way to recognize the vanity of his effort (Samon 2002). In this essay, am going to identify four challenges and frustrations that accompany each that confront the doctor. I will also explain why the story may be called a nightmare then lastly highlight the themes that revealed from the story.
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The weather is very unfavourable. It is this period that the doctor struggles to attend to an emergency ten miles away during a snowstorm. It is this bad weather and exhaustion that led to the death of his horse. The death of the horse greatly frustrates the doctor as he is unable to attend to the alarm because of lack of a horse. At the end as he goes back home, he is still greatly affected by the snow.
The perspective of the patient about his sickness is also a big challenge to the doctor. The patient has given up on life. When the doctor arrives and looks at the patient, the young man says, “doctor, let me die!” This is a total loss of hope. The young man knows that the presence of the doctor will not bring any improvement to his health status. The young man later asks, “Will you save me?” At the end the young man tells the doctor that he had very little confidence in him. This is a major challenge to the doctor as the sick young man has already given up. The doctor is frustrated because he can do nothing to the state of the young man (John stone 2008).
The emerging of the groom from the pigsty is one great challenge the doctor faces. The groom is a stranger but very willing to assist by lending his horse. Instead of accompanying the doctor, he refuses to go with him. In fact just the first time he handles Rosa is very suspicious. He scratches her cheek with his teeth. The groom’s actions after the doctor leaves are also mysterious (Cuizon 2008).
The torment the doctor feels about Rosa is also a great challenge. Rosa was left with a stranger whom she was not willing to stay with. The doctor had to make a choice between saving Rosa and attending to the patient. He decides to attend to the patient but is frequently disturbed mentally about the state of Rosa and the stranger. The frustrations go further as he has left Rosa in a vulnerable state yet his mission is not successful (Cuizon 2008).
The story might be called a nightmare because of the happenings that take place. The emerging of the groom and the horses from the pigsty is frightening. The doctor, who is the owner of the pigsty thinks it is abandoned, in fact Rosa’s comment is satirical; “one doesn’t know the things one has in one’s own house.” The groom is too willing to help. The description of the horses is not normal; in fact the doctor admits that he had never used such horses. The speed the horses run and the time taken for the ten miles is very short. The way the patient’s family handles the doctor is also frightening. They take off his clothes, and then force him to lie in the same bed with the patient. They then close the door and leave. In addition, the song sung by the school children and the teacher is frightening, “take his clothes off, then he will heal, and if he does not cure, kill him. It’s only a doctor, it’s only a doctor.”(Cuizon 2008).
Life is full of challenges; this is an evident theme in this story as the doctor constantly faces challenges in his duties. The snowstorm is severe, his horse dies and even when he gets to the patient’s home, the expectations of the patient’s family members are too much. He later discovers that he is of no help as it is impossible for the young man to be healed.
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Complacency is also a major theme in this story. The doctor allows many challenges into his life hence gets manipulated. The groom and the horses are a good example, though the doctor is not willing to leave Rosa with the groom, he allows it to happen. The doctor also allows the family of the patient to manipulate him, by harassing him until they take his clothes off.
Man’s vulnerability to elements: There are some kinds of nature that we can’t avoid. The doctor exposes himself to bad weather which later cost him his horse. Nature causes the wound on the young man until it reaches to a stage of him rotting and eventually death.
The theme of faith versus medicine is also evident. The behavior of the sick, young man is a total show of lack of faith. The people expect the doctor to do everything, at the arrival of the doctor the family receives him and even tries to entice him to carry out the treatment. When he wants to leave without giving treatment, they get very disappointed. The writer lastly notes that medicine without faith is not practical; people need to believe even before treatment.
The story, “A Country Doctor” is a story that tells the experiences that the doctor experiences in his activities, his challenges and even his failures. Through the story various themes are passed across as the experiences of the doctor are almost the same as those that people are going through in their day to day lives.
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