Known to be one of Germany’s most influential authors of the twentieth century, had a termed coined after his last name and writing style, Kafkaesque, and it is used by many modern day critics. Kafka’s narratives have been called “anti-fairy tales” (Kafka 332). Unlike fairy tales, where the hero or protagonist is sent on an adventure in order to save the day, Kafka’s journey is meant to bog down the hero and makes them feel like all hope is lost.
The following essay will summarize “the Country Doctor” and find evidence of its surrealism which is used to give the story a dream like appeal to readers and show why his narratives were called “anti-fairy tales”. “The Country Doctor” by Franz Kafka is an interesting short story that sends readers on a bizarre house call with “the country doctor”. Called in the middle of the night, the doctor seeks a horse (as his died the night before) to get to his patients house which is ten miles away.
To make matters worse, it is the dead of winter and dreadful storm is blowing quite hard. Along with the doctor we meet Rose, the doctor’s servant girl and the groom, a man with a blue eyed-face which appeared as if out of no-where from the sty. Moments after meeting this trio we are introduced to a family consisting of father, mother, daughter and son. Of which the son is the patient needing medical attention. The meeting of the trio is a bit odd to say the least. The problem here is that the winter storm had killed the doctors’ horse the night before.
He had his servant girl, Rose, going from door to door looking for someone to lend him a horse. Just as all hope seemed lost, he kicks his pigsty (which had been empty for all of a year) only to find out that there is a groom with two good and healthy horses ready to take the doctor on his journey. Odd thing is that the horses are much too big to even fit into the sty. Just as Rose begins to help the groom, the groom grabs her and bites her on the cheek. Second sign of surrealism in this story are the horses themselves.
After the initial encounter with the groom, the horses seemed to fly through the frigid night and got the doctor to the patients ranch in a blink of an eye. During the examination he noticed the horses “they had somehow slipped their reins loose, pushed the windows open from the outside and each of them had stuck their head in at a window and stood eyeing the patient” (Kafka 333). He noticed that the horses seemed to be hurrying him during his examination of the patient, letting the doctor know that they wanted to go home as much as the doctor himself.
On the way back to his house, the horses were terribly slow. “Gee up” I said, but there was no galloping; slowly like old men we crawled thought the snowy waste” Kafka (335) This now brings the writer to the third item of surrealism, the scene with the doctors’ patient. All seemed normal as normal can go, up until the point when “ the youngster heaved himself up from beneath his feather bedding, threw his arms around my neck and whispered in my ear: “Doctor let me die” (Kafka 333).
At which point this scene became even more strange “And so they came, the family the village elders, and stripped my clothes off me” (Kafka 334). The doctor is then placed next to the patient and is expected to be a miracle worker and heal the child or be killed. All the time the doctor has an internal dialog which show his insecurities in his own healing power as well as to thoughts of him getting back to Rose to make sure she is safe.