300 short stories: story 276

story: “The Use of Force”

author: William Carlos Williams

year: 1938

where: Al Reem Island, summer

note: This early example of flash fiction appears in the syllabus for a Stanford University course on the rise of scientific medicine. The syllabus also includes the term “the medical gaze.” I think this is in my top 20 favorite short stories.

a line:  “The father tried his best, and he was a big man but the fact that she was his daughter, his shame at her behavior and his dread of hurting her made him release her just at the critical moment several times when I almost had achieved success, till I wanted to kill him.”

theme(s): Health, Power, Submission, Authority


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