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Posted on June 24th, 2012, by

The relationship of doctors and patients are traditionally very complicated because they are not always able to develop a positive interpersonal relationships which are crucial for the development of normal relations and effective treatment of patients. In this respect, it is worth mentioning the fact that often patients suffer from a biased, prejudiced attitude from the part of doctors. On the other hand, patients are often distrustful in relation to doctors that also raises a number of problems in their relationships and makes it practically impossible for doctors to provide their patients with an effective treatment. In such a context, The Doctor Stories: by W.C. Williams are particularly noteworthy since they reveal the complexity of relations between doctors and patients and, what is more, the stories and poems written by the author reveal numerous problems doctors may face in their professional work.

First of all, it should be said that W.C. Williams depicts vivid and realistic stories. On analyzing his stories, it is possible to reveal his inclination to realism, which sometimes slips to naturalism in the depiction of state of patients and relationships of doctors and patients. In actuality, Williams apparently attempts to depict in details the real life situations and environment in which doctors worked and still work. The author pays attention to the professional aspect of doctors’ work, but it seems as if Williams is more interested in social and psychological aspect of doctors’ work. To put it more precisely, in his stories, an illness of patients is a pretext to show the life of ordinary people and their problems which a doctor observes while visiting patients at their homes. The description of illnesses or treatment is not actually the major goal of the book. Instead, the author is more concerned with the environment in which the doctor works as well as the personality of the doctor.

In this respect, it is possible to refer to his short story Old Doc Rivers. The main character of the short story is an old doctor, who is alcoholic and drug abuser. While reading the short story, it is quite difficult to associate such a person with a traditional image of a doctor. He seems to be unable to be a doctor because he uses drugs and alcohol excessively. Nevertheless, people in the community respect old Doctor Rivers and, in spite of all his vices and health problems, he is still able to take prompt decisions and quick actions. The latter characteristics are crucial for the effective work of a doctor since, in such a way, the old doc saves life of his patients and, therefore, he gains their respect. People grew confident in his professionalism and pay little attention to his bad habits. In such a way, the author emphasizes important characteristics of a good doctor promptness of decision and actions.

On the other hand, Williams condemns negative inclinations of his characters, such as old Doctor Rivers. At this point, it is possible to refer to another short story A Night in June, in which the author depicts another doctor who seems to be careless of his patient, a pregnant woman, who is in labor with her ninth child. In spite of the prolonged labor and possible complications, the child is born successfully, while the doctor spends most of the night asleep in the kitchen. In such a way, the author shows the indifference of the doctor to his patient and Williams apparently condemns such an attitude. On the other hand, the author emphasizes the ability of people to cope with most difficult situations even without the assistance of doctors. Nevertheless, he does not justify the doctor who prefers to sleep instead of fulfilling his professional duties. In such a context, his poems Birth and Dead Baby maintain the milestone idea of the author that doctors should help their patients in any situations, especially when the life of mothers and babies is at stake. Williams shows that some doctors are still indifferent to their patients.

In this respect, it is worth mentioning the fact that such an attitude of the doctor to the woman was, to a significant extent, determined by his prejudices and biased attitude to the woman because she was an immigrant. In fact, Williams pays a lot of attention to the problem of relationships of doctors and immigrants since many of his short stories are set in an immigrant environment. For instance, it is possible to refer to his short stories The Use of Force, A Face of Stone, Jean Beike and others where the author depicts the life of immigrants and their poor health conditions. Moreover, the author shows that doctors are often prejudiced in relation to immigrants. For instance, in The Use of Force, the doctor believes the illness of the little girl is diphtheria even though he has not examined her yet. He makes such a conclusion on the ground of the poverty of the immigrant family and the spread of the disease in the immigrant, poverty stricken neighborhood.

At the same time, Williams attempts to convince readers that doctors should always help their patients and be free of biases and prejudices. In this respect, it is possible to refer to The Girl with a Pimply Face where the doctor helps a newborn girl, whose parents are alcoholics. His colleagues cannot understand his zeal and desire to help the girl, whom they believe is doomed to die. At any rate, they believe that he will do no good for the girl if he helps her to survive because doctors believe that background of the family is inappropriate for raising up children. Nevertheless, the main character treats the girl and saves her life that proves the fact that doctors should perform their duties in spite of prejudices and social status of patients.

In this respect, it should be said that poverty is another important problem raised by Williams in his book. His short stories and poems, such as A Cold Front and Poor, show that doctors often have to treat patients who live in poverty. The author argues that doctors should always help patients and treat rich and poor equally.

Thus, in conclusion, it is important to emphasize the fact that throughout his book Williams shapes an ideal image of a doctor. He criticizes vices which doctors may develop in the course of their work. He condemns biases and prejudices in the work of doctors and he criticizes doctors’ negligence. Instead, he admires with professionalism, devotedness, tolerance and promptness of doctors who are real professionals and who are concerned with patients above all.

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