A Country Doctor


Louis H. Leiter saw in the tale a cogent argument for existentialism:

"A Country Doctor" comments on man, who, buffeted by the scheme of things, is unable to transcend the part assigned him by the absurdity of that existence. Because he does not lack conscious knowledge of his condition, but refuses to act in the face of his portentous freedom, the doctor, an archetype of the anti-existential hero, deserves his fate. Lacking the human stuff necessary to create and structure situations, he permits himself to be manipulated by the groom, the family, and the horses; but he becomes, by submitting, a tool within the situations they create. Never, consciously, does he attempt through an overt act, until too late, to establish his own essence, to rise above any manipulative value he possesses for others. As doctor he is a thing, an object, a tool; as man he is nothing.[2]

Psychologists at the University of California, Santa Barbara and the University of British Columbia published a report in 2009 using A Country Doctor as the variable in a study testing what impact reading absurdist tales has on their cognitive skills. The study showed that reading the story improved test subjects' ability to find patterns. Their findings summarised that when people have to work to find consistency and meaning in a fragmented story, it increases β€œthe cognitive mechanisms responsible for implicitly learning statistical regularities.”[3]

This content is from Wikipedia. GradeSaver is providing this content as a courtesy until we can offer a professionally written study guide by one of our staff editors. We do not consider this content professional or citable. Please use your discretion when relying on it.