A country doctor is a tale about a doctor's adventures on a snowy night as he tried to treat a patient who he had been called upon to offer his services. The doctor encounters a series of setbacks as he carries out his mission. The story describes how he makes the journey from his house, albeit with difficulty, to the patient's home through a snowstorm and the care he tries to provide to his patient all through to the journey back.
The main character of the story is a doctor who lives with his servant, Rosa, and has been employed by his district to tend to the residents. The doctor normally has to respond to distress calls from residents, some of which are false reports. The residents have high hopes in his services.
On this particular mission, the doctor is confronted by a number of challenges. Firstly, the weather conditions are not good when he receives the distress call from the patient. A severe snowstorm is being experienced in the area making the visit undesirable. To make matters worse, although he has a carriage, he does not have a horse to draw it as his horse had died the previous night as a result of overexertion in the icy winter. Therefore as he gets his tools of trade ready, he knows the trip was going to be next to impossible. This is because he is sure nobody would lend him a horse for such a journey. And the district is of no much help either in providing the horses.
The frustration accompanying this challenge is that although the doctor is pursuing a noble cause, none of the district's residents are willing to provide him with means of transportation that is a horse. The old country doctor however is adamant and sends his servant Rosa to try and get a horse for him.
Another challenge the doctor faces is the fact that after a stranger, referred to as the groom offers him two strong horses, the groom proceeds to pursue the servant Rosa with a bid to force himself on her. This is shown by the fact that as Rosa goes to help the groom with the horses, the groom puts his arms around her and pushes his face against hers leaving red marks on her cheek.
In this the doctor is frustrated as he cannot help Rosa, first because he doesn't know where the stranger is from and secondly because as he tries to stay behind and defend her, he is carried away by the strong unruly horses to his destination.
The doctor on his arrival encounters the challenge of diagnosing the patient. The doctor does not understand their confused talking and his initial examination reveals nothing wrong and he is almost forced to conclude that the patient is healthy. The situation is not made any better by the horses sticking there heads through the window as if to apply pressure to the doctor.
The frustration the doctor goes through at this point is trying to meet the high expectations that the patient's family have in him. The patient's father goes to the extent of preparing a glass of his treasured rum for the doctor as the mother entices him to the bed. Also the doctor silently laments the fact that he is no improver of his world and although he is generous and ready to help the poor, he is badly paid by the district.
On getting the source of the trouble in his patient, the doctor encounters another problem. The wound in his patient is very serious and he doesn't think he can save him. The wound also has thick worms which means it is hard to heal. Also considering the high expectations the family and friends have in him, they get impatient and undress him laying him next to his patient and also considering killing him as he is only a doctor and have no use for him if he cannot heal.
The doctor here is frustrated that the people have lost the old faith in priests who now tear their religious robes to pieces and expect the impossible from doctors. To compound to that, the doctor is paid a pittance and nobody is willing to help him out when he has a problem for example when he lacked a horse use on his way to tend to his patient.
This story can in all ways be termed as a nightmare. A nightmare is defined as a terrifying or deeply distressing dream. It is also defined as a situation resembling such a dream. This is very clear as the story progresses. First the doctor is experiencing what can be termed as a worst night out. His only horse has died the night before and nobody is willing to lend him one. Then as a dream can be, out of nowhere in his sty pops out a groom with two horses. The groom although kind enough to lend the two horses threatens to force himself on the doctor's servant Rosa.
As the doctor tries to defend Rosa the horses speed away and the way the doctor finds himself in the patient's house is only achievable in a dream. Then the way the horses behave in knowing their way to their destination and continuously leaning and loudly making noises in the patient's room is unrealistic. The sequence of events which are hurried up to when the doctor escapes seems at best a nightmare and clearly fits the description.
There are various themes that come out in this story. A clear theme is that of despair. This is outlined by the doctor as he easily gives up for instance about getting a horse or being able to treat his patient. There is also despair in the family and friends of the patient as they see the doctor struggle with him. The doctor also displays despair as he has lost hope of saving Rosa from the hands of the vicious groom.
Another theme that comes out is that of expectation. There is great expectation among the family and friends of the patient. School children line up to see the doctor at his work. Also there is a theme of betrayal in this story. The doctor believes he has been betrayed by his people in not lending him a horse and trying to kill him when he is unable to treat his patient. He is also betrayed by the groom trying to force himself on Rosa.