Themes and message

The main themes the short story “The Doctor and the Doctor's Wife” by Ernest Hemingway explores are masculinity versus femininity and relationships.

Masculinity versus femininity

This theme is illustrated through the characters of the doctor and his wife, as they have different approaches to conflict. In the argument with the Native Americans, the doctor demonstrates a typically male attitude. He uses aggressive language and becomes territorial when he feels cornered—he continues to claim the logs are his although evidence shows otherwise and tells the men to leave his property if they continue to claim the logs are stolen. Furthermore, his manner is aggressive. His face turns red, he walks angrily towards his house, and cleans his gun (most likely thinking about the Native Americans). In the end, he goes hunting with his son to calm himself down, another typically male activity.

The doctor’s actions and attitude are in conflict with those of his wife. The wife is religious and preaches calmness as a way to solve arguments. She is worried not only about her husbands’ well-being but also about that of Dick and perhaps her son: " ‘You didn't say anything to Boulton to anger him, did you?’ ‘No,’ said the doctor. ‘What was the trouble about, dear?’ " (ll. 90-91)

Her perspective on arguments as well as on relationships is typically feminine. For instance, she believes that spouses should ...

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