English 1B

Nov. 13, 2003


There are some people in the world who face disappointment, and diseases in their daily lives. This is the way that some people are. One could usually find these characters in Adam Haslett’s short stories. Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and a National Book Award, Adam Haslett’s You Are Not a Stranger Here is a heartfelt collection from a shinning new talent. Haslett’s stories are underpinned by authentic emotional urgency. Haslett displays instinctive empathy for his characters, who find themselves in situations universal to the human condition; isolation, loneliness, feelings of being out of step in an increasingly monochrome world, and the frustration that rises in the chasm between expectation and reality. But, Haslett also is able to construct just as credible and believable unlikable characters too. There is a similarly between Dr. Frank, and Owen who are selfish men in Haslett’s short story collection.

The story, “The good doctor,” tells the story of Frank, a young psychiatrist who drives into a secluded down and out- town to prescribe medication for a depressed woman who is haunted by tragedy, only to find his own beliefs and convictions about his job challenged. The title of story is ironic because Frank is not a good doctor. “One of the reasons he’d taken his job at a county clinic two thousand miles from his friends and family was that the National Health Service Corps had promised to repay his medical school loans in return for three years’ work in an undeserved area”(25). Frank doesn’t want to work in the hospital; he was there because he wants to pay off the money that he loaned for medical school. He doesn’t have the heart of a doctor. He does what is good for him first. That is why he has problems in personal relationships “After getting thoroughly drunk, he’d done the really smart thing of calling his ex-girlfriend, a woman in his program he’d dated toward the end of their residency. They had gone out for six months, which, at the age of thirty-two, was the longest Frank had ever been with a woman” (28). His longest relationship is six months which shows that he is a good doctor but, he doesn’t know how to love, and care for his loved ones, even his patients even though, he is intelligent, and good at diagnosis. By looking at an outside look of a person, Frank would be able to diagnosis the symptoms “Frank turn his back toward the door to see a middle-aged man dressed in a sweatshirt and work pants. Spidery angiomas, those star-shaped discolorations of the vessels seen in liver patients, blotched the skin of his rounded face. Hepatitis C, Frank thought, or the end of a serious drinking habit” (26). That doesn’t mean that Frank knows how the patient’s feelings are. Frank is addicted to everyone’s life. He likes to hear other peoples’ feeling. “The fact was he still like a sponge, absorbing the pain of the people he listened to. Privately, he considered it the act of a certain kind of faith. Never having been a religious person, empathy had taken up the place in him belief might have in others” (29). He drives to another peoples’ life misery. Other peoples’ misery is the most interesting thing in this doctor’s life. Frank doesn’t know what his patient needs. For example, Mrs. Buckholdt who is suffering from depression knows her symptoms and how to ease her anxiety. “Didn’t you hear what I said?”(47). Frank is good at diagnosis, but now it seems that he doesn’t understand his patients. He is a selfish person who doesn’t want to change the way he is. “He didn’t want to lose her; he didn’t want the telling to end” (46). He couldn’t live without listening to other peoples’ lives. He was born with this hobby. He is a doctor, but he doesn’t know how to treat his patients the right way. All he does is tells them to take medication. Mrs. Buckholdt seems to know Frank’s problem in his career as a doctor. “She bowed her head. You seem like a kind man, and you’re kind to offer what you did. But I don’t want