Mercy – Coursework Example

MERCY” – A SHORT STORY (by Dr. Richard Selzer) ID Number: of of (affiliation)
Location of University:
Word Count: 486 (text only)
Date of Submission: July 20, 2014
1. Opening (exposition) - flies dying on the window sill indicate foreboding; it reflects on the story as one of misfortune or bad luck. The patients diagnosis is pancreatic cancer and he has been ill for the past seven years already and possibly even longer before the diagnosis.
2. Inciting Incident - the wife does not want her husband to suffer any longer and the mother had agreed and so the doctor decided to give the patient a lethal dose of morphine.
3. Complication - the male patient did not die as expected despite the lethal dose given.
4. Midpoint - the doctor was suddenly conscious of his unethical and possibly illegal act. This is in contrast to his earlier attitude that killing him with morphine would be easy and no further questions will be asked as both wife and mother were in total agreement.
5. Climax - the conflict that he cannot surpass was to make another attempt to kill his patient. It was easy the first time if the man died because it was expected for him to die but this second time around, it is now more difficult for him to do it again because there is already a strong element of intent or deliberate killing as it is now a murder of the first degree. The difference is the first time is just happenstance but the second time, it is now murder; the difference is degree but the doctor suffered an internal conflict in his mind and emotions.
6. Coda - the mother meant the doctor himself was not ready as “he is ready but you aint” is a way of chastising him for his lack of courage and conviction in carrying it out.
7. Theme - doctors are quite often faced with moral dilemmas. It is a bit similar to “The Use of Force” but doctors are no longer allowed to do this based on professional ethics of non-malevolence and patient autonomy (by not forcing the patient against his will). The lack of a satisfactory resolution puts the doctor in a moral and ethical dilemma or bind. Any decision that involves matters of life and death (like euthanasia) is never easy on anyone, more so for doctors.
8. Truth value - the theme represents a truth in life that people are sometimes forced to face as it is a quite common occurrence when sick patients in extreme pain have to be taken out of their suffering. Most religions forbade the taking of life but allows for rare exceptions too.
9. Further inquiries - if it was the patient, wife, or the mother who was the protagonist, then the sting of the moral in the story will be less as there is no ethical dilemma like that faced by a doctor. The narrator evoked the parallels between the flies and the patient by the patients “refusal” to die like the flies which were resurrected after being thrown into the wastebasket.
Selzer, R. (1980, Spring-Summer). "Mercy." The Iowa Review, 11(2/3), 117-119.
Due: July 23, 2014 @ 9:22 a.m.