The big question for this unit is “How do race, class, and gender affect people’s experiences of illness and healthcare?”. For this post I am going to focus on gender. I’m going to use the stories “A night” and “Ponies gathering in the Dark” to discuss this question.
The story “A Night” is about a nurse’s experience during the a war. She is in charge of watching everyone in three rooms of the hospital she is in. She shares some of her experiences she has had with different patients to give an idea of how that usually are. Then one day a man named John is brought into one of her rooms. John was shot in the back and as a result has a punctured lung that pains him every time he breathes. John does not show signs of pain. After the nurse becomes very close to John he ends up dying. At one point in the story she connects with John because she finally understands their connection and his vision of her. “Now I knew that to him, as to many , I was the poor substitute for mother, wife, or sister”(page 52). This quote really connects to the big question. Since she is a female, her patients respect her and are more comfortable with her because she takes the place of one of their loved ones.
In the story “Ponies gathering in the Dark”, a medicine man from a tribe goes on a quest to find a new cure that will save his people from a disease that is currently killing them. Throughout the story he connects with nature to try and find this cure. In the end it ends up taking his life and he does not find a cure to save his people. To his people he is the doctor he is their leader.
The answer to the big question can be found by comparing these two stories. One that is about a nurse, the other is about a medicine man. In the one story the nurse is able to connect with her patients by being someone close to them, like their sister, mother, or wife. Where the medicine man’s patients are his people. They look to him to save them. This gives them a sense of power that helps them stay alive. Here we can clearly see two different ways that people can effect their patients. The nurse uses her gender to help her patients be more comfortable, more calm, and to take care of them that way. Where the medicine man uses his image and strength to help his patients. I’m not saying that nurses cant supply that, I’m just interpreting how both characters were from their stories.