Identifying the Main Character in The Use of Force

Identifying the Main Character in The Use of Force

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Identifying the Main Character in The Use of Force

Since Olson narrates the story, I was tempted to focus on his opinions and motives in accessing and handling the intense situation of diagnosing a sick child. Though tempted to focus on Olson, after meticulous analysis of the passage, I noted Matilda as the character that force is being applied to-clearly a manifestation of the title of this story.

All attention and focus is on Matilda employing care to her appearance as well as her fluster. Matilda just would not allow Olson to take cultures from the back of her throat. Olson’s blunt remarks to Matilda’s naïve parents “for heavens sake...she might have diphtheria and possibly die from it,” doesn’t affect the child in the least. Nothing changes. Diphtheria is an infectious disease in which a membrane forms over the air passage. Olson orders one parent, whom he subconsciously had not disclosed, to place the child on his lap and hold her wrist. Matilda shrieked terrifyingly, desperately, “Stop it! You’re killing me!”

Matilda’s mother is even more naïve than her father because obviously Olson told the child she would die of a sore throat to startle her and prompt gravity to the urgency of acquiring the cultures. Yet, Matilda’s mother still questioned the doctor contemptibly till her husband had to suggest that she take leave of absence from the room, inferring that diphtheria is deadly. Olson’s ego is ruffled, for he states that he could have torn the child apart in his own fury and enjoyed it. It was a pleasure to attack her.

Force is implied from the statements ‘Then the battle begins’ and ‘Oh yeah’ in Olson’s objection to the alternative to go to the hospital. This is embodied by the descriptions: abject, crushed, exhausted, magnificent heights of insane fury, and terror for the doctor. The doctor wrestles with Matilda and her parents. Operative determination in the final unreasoning assault, to overpower her neck and jaws to insert the tongue depressor, succeeded.

Focus shifted from each character back to the child. Olsen speaks about the other characters at length, at all times referring their effect or concerns on the child. The only mention of defensiveness is in Matilda. She had fought valiantly, hiding the secret of her sore throat and cried blinding tears. Olson becomes impatient calling Matilda “a damn little brat,” emphasizing her ignorance when he says she has to be protected from her idiocy.

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Portraying qualities that are uncomplimentary, by becoming impatient and ignorant of Matilda’s bleeding gums, Olson retorts with convincing justifications. He must protect her from herself. Others must be protected against her. It is a social necessity and adult shame-as if he didn’t know how to expose a throat for inspection.

There is repetitious use of Olson’s name in my essay but when he visited the house, who did he come to see? Matilda. The father urges speedy diagnosis from Olson -- of whom? Matilda. Who is the cause of the dilemma that force had to be applied to? Matilda. The main character is Matilda.
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