William Carlos Williams's story "The Use of Force" is an anecdote about a doctor summoned to make a house call on a family with whom he has had no prior contact. Upon arrival at the house, the doctor observes that he is dealing with poor people but who obviously take pride in what they own. Their house is clean and apparently well managed. He is visiting the home to call upon the family's young daughter who has been ill for some time. When he enters the home, the mother of the house greets him. She is seemingly frantic and worried about her daughter. The father is holding the girl on his lap and the entire family is " eyeing me up and down distrustfully." The narrator uses his powers of observation to assess the situation and it becomes clear that the girl appears to be quite sick. While the parents recite their observations of the girl's illness, the doctor realizes that the girl could be suffering from a case of diphtheria, which has been going around the school that she attends. The doctor asks if the young girl has been suffering from a sore throat and the mother tells him that the girl has not reported such symptoms. The doctor, wanting to rule out the disease, instinctually wants to examine the throat. This is where the story gets interesting and the battle is waged. The girl is adamant that her throat not be examined. As the doctor becomes more and more certain that diphtheria is to blame, the use of force is needed more and more, hence the title of the story, "The Use of Force." Even though it is for caring purposes, the doctor has to use more violent means to examine the girl. Necessary force is the central theme of this story. When is conflict and even violence necessary? The story describes a situation in which a young girl must be " saved from her own idiocy." The narrator feels that "It is a social necessity." This merits the use of force. .
This story takes place in a well kept, seemingly loving home.