The Role of the Title in The Use of Force by Williams

The title is a very important component of any literary text as it is supposed to attract the audience’s attention to the concepts crucial for understanding the message that the author wants to communicate to the readers. However, the authors have different methods and techniques in term of creating apt title for their works. William Carlos Williams usually did not use any long and complicated titles for his poems or stories preferring short and powerful word combinations that are easy to remember. The title of the short story The Use of Force tells the audience about the key concept of the story that is thoroughly analyzed by the author.

First of all, it is necessary to analyze the structural aspects of this title. It consists of two short and simple nouns connected by the preposition “of”. Therefore, looking at this title the readers understand that the story would tell not only about some abstract force, but about the ways and methods according to which this force is used. The word “force” has many different meanings and it could be quite difficult for the readers to understand which one the writer meant if the title consisted of only one word. However, the addition of the word “use” turns the title into a conventional word combination whose meaning is clear to anyone. Moreover, the structure of the title also shows that the main component is the “use”, not the “force”, so it means that the author would not focus on the force as an abstract concept that is quite difficult to define, but explore the ways the force is used by different people.

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The force is used by all the characters in the story. The first person who decides to use the force against others is the girl. This use of force creates an impressive contrast to her appearance. The doctor describes her as “one of those picture children often reproduced in advertising leaflets and the photogravure sections of the Sunday papers”. However, she clearly decides to protect her decision not to show her throat to the doctor and anyone else. At first she simply refuses to open her mouth, but later she “knocked my glasses flying and they fell… several feet away from me”. The girl does not speak a word in the story, so her fury is aggressive, dangerous, but silenced. The concept of force also helps the writer to study the gender stereotypes and even some elements of human sexuality. The girl and her mother are the only female characters of the story. The mother appears to be rather “useless” from the beginning of the text, but the girl has a “spirit” that allows her to counteract the doctor. Although it is important that at the end of the text the little girl is forced into submission and that even gives some pride and satisfaction to the doctor. After the examination of her throat took place, she attempts to revenge the doctor, but it is clear that she will not succeed as the writer speaks of “tears of defeat” that “blinded her eyes”.

The story is told from the point of view of the doctor and the readers learn much more about the way he uses the force and how it influences him. At first he is quite calm and focused on his professional duties. He says. “I smiled in my best professional manner”. The doctor does his best to persuade the child to let him examine her throat, but the girl stubbornly refuses to do it. It makes the doctor angry not only at the little girl, but also at her parents that say wrong things and are incapable of giving him any proper help. Therefore, the doctor decides to use force against the girl, but he does it only after it was approved by the girl’s parents. Although it is clear that in the end this use of force brought good to the girl as the doctor confirmed his diagnosis of diphtheria (“there it was – both tonsils covered with membrane”), the overall impression of the episode is quite negative as the use of force distorted the decent purpose of the doctor. Moreover, the readers see how this aggression changes him. He acknowledges that this fight with the girl started to bring him satisfaction. He says, “I could have torn the child apart in my own fury and enjoyed it. It was a pleasure to attack her”. Despite the fact that the doctor initially wanted to protect the girl and the people who surround her from the disease that could be fatal, at the end of the story the reaction of the readers is likely to be quite controversial as the decent purpose was additionally colored by such negative aspects, as satisfaction from aggression and forcing other people into submission. The doctor happens to reveal some animal aspects of his nature. These changes in the motivation of the doctor are likely to be the main message about the use of force that the author wanted to communicate to the audience. The title of the story is very simple and any reader can immediately remember some episodes similar to the one described in the text when the use of force turned people into aggressive and unreasonable beings as it happened in case of the doctor.

The simplicity of the title perfectly corresponds to realism chosen by the writer as the primary approach to describing this episode happened between the doctor, the child and her parents. It was first published in 1938 when the Great Depression had already done great damage to the economic and social spheres of the United States. These “stories revealed more eloquently than any propaganda could what the economic situation in America had done to thousands of lower-class American families and how those families had somehow managed to survive”. Although the story does not directly mention any actual repercussions of the Great Depression, the realism of this text is revealed in a number of places, including the title of the short story. Williams writes, “…they weren't telling me more than they had to, it was up to me to tell them; that's why they were spending three dollars on me”. It means that the sum of three dollars was quite much for a lower-class American family at that period and they did not want this money to be wasted, so they expected to get good healthcare services for that money. All these elements are not directly connected with the title, but the title of the story creates a corresponding atmosphere of simplicity and realism that is further developed within the text.

To conclude, the title of the story shows that main concept that will become the primary object of the analysis in the text. It hints the readers that the writer will explore how different people use the force and how it influences their psychological state and behavior. The title is also very simple and easy to understand that contributes to the general realism of the story. All things considered, the title of the story perfectly related to its content and allows the audience to better understand the key concepts of the text.

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